Each year the holidays seem to approach faster and cause a feeling of annoyance in just about anyone over the age of 45, including me. Decorations show up in window displays before the fourth of July. Summer begins and ends before you know it. Kids go back to school before Labor Day, which once upon a time was the official start of the holiday season. Retailers have taken it into their hands claiming the public wants earlier access to holiday decor and sale items. Is that the case? I hear chatter all around me, read stories online, and the feeling I get is bah humbug…where did the year go?
As a child, the holidays couldn’t come soon enough. I loved to dress up and go trick or treating, have family get-togethers, and try to stay awake long enough to see Santa leaving presents under the tree. Christmas day was spent tearing through the wrapping paperd and looking for the one special gift you wanted. Then getting to rush outside to play with all your new things and see what your friends got. We played for hours with our new bikes, skateboards and basketball hoops. We listened to our new records or had endless marathons of the latest board game. The fun was being around your friends and family, enjoying their company, and learning how to use all your gadgets or sports equipment.
I tried to continue that tradition when I started my family. Halloween was always fun, and never generic. We created costumes that were unique and homemade. The costume box became epic over the years. I loved putting on a huge Thanksgiving dinner and pulling out the china. After dinner and dessert, it was time to look at the huge stack of ads and prepare for Black Friday! Of course, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were extremely special as well. I likened myself to Mrs. Griswald. It would take me several days to get my house fully decorated. So many lights adorned our home and yard. I prayed that the circuit breaker would stay on each night as I cooked dinner, used the microwave or dishwasher.
I loved decorating for every holiday, but as the kids got older and their interest in being involved diminished, I started to become sad, lonely and a little depressed. I loved seeing my house look festive, but I also got excited seeing the girl’s faces light up with excitement when they saw all the decorations. I enjoyed having friends over to share in the joy of the season. As the years passed, however, it seemed everyone was too busy or had other plans. I remember one year I had told my girls I was not going to decorate the house for Christmas. “What was the point?!” I said. No one helps or stays home to enjoy it. To my surprise, “Operation Christmas Tree” was born. The girls picked out a tree at the local tree farm, put it on top of their tiny car, decorated it and the house, all before I got home from work. I was shocked and thrilled beyond words.
I am not sure at what point my feelings about the holidays changed. It might be the result of not having little kids at home or possibly living alone. Maybe it is just an age thing. I used to get upset with my mom for not wanting to decorate and getting as excited as I was, but I get it now. Or do I? What happened to my excitement? Why don’t I enjoy the holiday season like I used to? I had this conversation with my daughter and son-in-law last weekend and as I tried to explain it to them, nothing I said made much sense. The kids kept telling me I just needed to enjoy the holidays for myself and not let it be about someone else. I think it’s deeper than that. As the years go by, the meaning of the holidays begin to change. What is important to you changes. You view life differently. It’s not about having the best-decorated house, or the most candy in your bag, or even the most presents under the tree. It’s about relationships, quality time spent making memories. You realize life is short and you need to make the most of every day.
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