How did I become such a Scrooge. I remember loving Christmas as a little kid. The excitement. The anticipation. THE MATERIALISM!!!! I remember struggling to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. Every sound was evidence that Santa had arrived. Then I would awaken in the morning. I was a good boy. I would let my parents sleep in, however, as soon as the clock hit 5am, I couldn’t wait any longer. I would try to wake them up, but they would tell my brothers and I, “10 more minutes.” This would go on over and over again until 7am.
Finally we would make our way downstairs and OH MY GOD!!!!!!!! Presents! Everywhere! Where’s my pile. Okay, 1, 2, 3, 4, …………. 15, 16. Good, one more than last year. I would tear through my gifts. Spiderman action figure! Electronic soccer game! KISS records! It was all so exciting. Then family would come to the house. There would be 30 or more people. That meant more presents and a lot of food. My cousins and I would bounce off the walls from our sugar highs. Christmas was so much fun. This went on year after year after year.
But, then life changed. I began to grow older. As a teenager, I didn’t want to be around my family anymore. I wanted to hang out with my friends. Then, a little later in time, I wanted to hang out with my girlfriend. When I began to work, there was an expectation that I would buy the gifts I was going to give, with my own money!
Eventually, I moved out into my own apartment. I was struggling to pay the rent. How was I going to afford Christmas gifts? Somehow I always managed; quite often with a lot of help from my mother.
Then I met a girl. We fell in love and got married. We had a few good Christmases together. I felt like a kid again. After we bought a house that had a little more mortgage than we could afford, Christmas stopped being fun again. Christmas brought on stress and fights about money. Then our first daughter was born. Then our second daughter was born. My wife and I barely bought gifts for each other anymore. Our focus was on our daughters. Each year as the gifts they asked for got more and more expensive, the level of stress became greater and greater. As soon as the stores start putting out Christmas decorations in late October, I feel my stress level begin to increase. Then in November, the TV commercials begin. An endless barrage of them, telling me if I don’t buy this for my brother I’m not good enough. If I don’t buy this for my wife, I’m not good enough. I don’t buy this for my children, I just might be condemned to hell.
What once excited me to the point of craziness has now become a repeated dull thud of frustration and stress. Just putting up the Christmas decorations in the house is a chore.
So what keeps me from completely losing my mind during the holidays? Lucky for me, I love Christmas music. The oldies of course. I don’t want to hear the Jonas Brothers singing Jingle Bells. Don’t give me that garbage. I want Bing Crosby. Mitch Miller. Brenda Lee singing Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree. I know every word to every song and I sing them at the top of my lungs, much to my daughters embarrassment. Then there are the TV specials. Rudolph reminds me to be nice to people who are different. Frosty reminds me that there still is Christmas magic. And the Grinch reminds me that even the worst of people can change. And let’s not forget everyones favorite Christmas family, The Griswolds.
On Christmas morning, seeing my daughters’ excitement brings warmth to my heart. I can remember those feelings that they are feeling, and on Christmas morning, I get excited for them. I love watching them open their gifts. I love hearing them scream when they open a gift they really wanted.
So yes, the 2 months leading up to Christmas day are very stressful, but for some reason, by the end of Christmas day, it always seems to be worth it.