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How I Make the Holidays Magical as an Adult

Growing up, the twinkly Christmas lights seemed so bright. The air seemed colder and crisper. Hot cocoa seemed sweeter and pajamas seemed softer — the list goes on and on. The holidays were always a big deal in my family. Huge dinners with extended family flying in from across the country, with a massive presentation of gifts underneath the tree and the anticipation for Christmas morning. However, as I got older, toys turned into clothes, family dinners became more intimate and my life became so busy that the holidays would sneak up on me.

As a child, the holidays were two months of growing anticipation. I would make hand turkeys in school for Thanksgiving and my teachers would host a pajama day with hot cocoa and The Polar Express. For New Year’s Eve, all the neighborhood families would gather at the neighborhood clubhouse. We would sneak to the playground with our sparkly party favors and play tag. I would try hard to stay up to watch the ball drop, but I could never keep my eyes open. My mom would tuck me into bed and whisper, “See you next year.” With each ball drop, I got a little older. My sister got older. My cousins got older. We all became busier with our lives. I am guilty of this myself.

I knew that as I grew up and moved out of my childhood home, I wanted to keep that magic that came along with the holidays I celebrated. I have a more active role now. I help cook Thanksgiving dinner, half of the presents under the tree are ones I bought and I make sure everyone watches the New Year’s Eve ball drop. As a kid, it seemed like all I wanted was to grow up, but now that I’m an adult, it seems that all I want is time to move a little slower. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” 

Keeping the magic has always been important to me, so now I ensure that all my favorite Thanksgiving foods growing up still appear on the dinner table. I watch the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My boyfriend and I started a new tradition four years ago to always drive to a nearby neighborhood to look at all the Christmas lights. I try to make a cup of hot cocoa every night and snuggle up with a cozy blanket and a Christmas movie. I make my mom wait to decorate the house until I come home for Thanksgiving. I decorate my apartment with all the twinkly lights and garland. I always try to have a little piece of home with me.

So even though family members have moved farther away, gotten married, had kids and become busy with their own lives, I have accepted and welcomed the change. I’ve started new traditions. I have found new ways to make the holidays as magical as they were when I was eight. It’s easy to forget that the holidays aren’t just for children: they’re also for our inner child. Traditions change and people move on with their lives, so as I move on with my own life, it becomes my responsibility to make each holiday season magical.

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Katie Frey is a Florida State University student majoring in Editing, Writing, and Media (EWM) with a minor in Women's Studies. She loves reading, writing, playing video games, and watching movies. She loves animals and is a nacho connoisseur.