My Gift to Myself

We’ve finally made it to the Yuletide season! Thanksgiving has passed, and now decorations can be put up and Christmas music can be played without fear of being shamed for being “too early.”

Like many people, I’ve always held Christmas as my favorite time of year. I have vivid memories of hanging garland on my grandma’s staircase, helping my nana bake her famous Tunnel of Fudge and Miss Brownie cakes (despite the fact that I’ve never really loved chocolate), and watching the Miser brothers duke it out over song as I tried my best to stay up all night with my sister on Christmas Eve.

These things all warm my heart to think about, but the truth is the past few ─ who am I kidding, several ─ Christmases have paled in comparison. Is it that ABC Family is now Freeform and 25 Days of Christmas is more like 25 Days of The Santa Claus rather than the classic specials I love? Is it that I’m now aware of how wasteful it is for me to buy half a gallon of eggnog, drink three cups, and throw the rest away?

It seems like at some point every December for the past five years or so, I’ve broken down into tears and asked myself Why am I not enjoying this? By now, I’ve considered that it could be seasonal depression, and after learning earlier this year how down in the dumps you can feel if your body doesn’t have enough Vitamin D, I definitely think that could be part of it. But what I really think is that I’ve created some kind of Lenny effect by holding so tight onto my past memories of Christmas. By the time Christmas Day gets here, I inevitably feel let down and deflated.

This year, however, I have been gifted with the knowledge (and Vitamin D supplements) to recognize this. And to recognize that Christmas hasn’t changed, nor have the things that make it special to me. But I do need to accept that the things that made Christmas magical as a kid no longer bring me the same joy, and that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong ─ I’d still put my life on the line for The Polar Express (three words: Josh Groban’s “Believe”), but Christmas won’t be ruined if I don’t watch every Christmas movie I used to love (as long as I watch Elf, because not doing so is practically a crime against humanity). This year my gift to myself is accepting change and letting go of comparisons to Christmases of yore. As long as I’m with my family and we have our Black Santa proudly on display, Christmas will always be Christmas.

Image taken by author