I’ve been thinking about this one for a long time and with the first snowfall of the year it feels like a legitimate time to bust out a wintry post.
I may not love all of winter, but I love the whole Christmassy season. I like the lights, tinsel and wreaths. The cranberry-cinnamon-peppermint-spruce-orange-spiced-whatever candles. The Guinness, mulled wine, eggnog and Baileys. The carols, cartoons and classic movies. I even like the snow (when observed from the inside of a cozy fireplace lit room or a warm pub). Point is – I’m not a grinch. Not by a long shot.
But the magic of Christmas changes over the years, and at certain points along the way you find yourself caught in Christmas purgatory: the no-man’s-land between the Christmas season as kids and the season with kids. There are a few cycles of this.
Obviously, when you are a kid yourself, Christmas is really fun and special. This lasts until probably your mid to late teens, when the obligatory stay at home with family and go to church time eclipses the fun of presents and hot chocolate and you’d rather just be out getting into trouble with your friends. Christmas purgatory #1.
In your twenties, things look up again. You’ve moved out on your own by now, and going home for a few yummy meals that you didn’t have to cook (or pay for) is pretty appealing. You’re so broke and needy that you’re super grateful for presents once again. These are the years you spend with roommates, boyfriends/girlfriends and friends, enjoying late-nights and lazy mornings in your own place on a much-needed break from school. You spoil your pets with treat-filled stockings of their own and start new traditions that are just your own – not your family’s. You’re not a kid, exactly, but you’re not really grown-up either and in the long-run, this phase fits into the magical “we were just kids back then” time of your life.
At the end of this era, people around you either start pairing off and having kids…or they don’t. Your coupled-off friends in their late 20s and early 30s, especially the ones with kids, often start having holiday plans of their own. You’re usually not living, or hanging out regularly with, a big crowd of single, party-loving friends any more. You’re working full-time and may or may not get much holiday time off. And if there are no little kids around to reinvigorate things on the home front, Christmas starts to get kind of lame again. Christmas purgatory #2.
It can still be nice, but it’s just not quite the same. All-adult family Christmas get-togethers just lack a certain something. Nobody’s too amped up to go to sleep, nobody’s having their first sugar cookie, sled ride or Santa sighting and nobody really needs/wants presents any more. By year five of this, you’re all sitting around swilling scotch, trying to talk yourselves into another game of Scrabble while accepting e-mail money transfers for the presents you bought for yourselves on behalf each other.
This Christmas, we will have an 8 month old to spice up the season – and I have to say, I’m pretty damn excited about it. It’s such a fun and cute age for baby’s first Christmas. She’ll be mesmerized by the trees and decorations and will enjoy the wrapping paper and bows as much as her actual presents. Instead of hauling my ass out to work on shitty days, we’ll get to curl up in the rocking chair and watch Miracle on 34th Street. We’ll get to see if she is cool with creepy mall Santa or screams her face off when we hand her over. We’ll get to read her Christmas stories and buy her first special Christmas Eve jammies. And I have this nice, soft-focus image of her snoozing on a fuzzy blanket while mom and dad sip bourbon and watch The Last Waltz as the snow falls outside.