As you grow up, the holidays tend to change meaning.
We can all recite from childhood that the “best part about holidays are being with your family” … or at least that is what we were supposed to say. In reality we were all excited to get back to school in third grade and show our friends our new baby dolls, kitchen sets, motorized cars, whiteboards (yes, that was one of my favorite gifts as a kid) and whatever else we got.
When I was a kid, being with family was an all-the-time kind of thing. I see that now as a blessing, but before it was just a routine thing in my life that I didn’t know otherwise. That being said, Christmas was about the gifts when I was little. I’m not going to lie! If you think back, I bet it was for you too. Just be honest.
Christmas Eve was a time when we’d go to my grandparents with my little cousins and one of the first things that we would do was sort out everyone’s Christmas gifts. Keep in mind, too, that when you’re little your gifts tend to be cheaper which means you get more of them. Especially the years that I was really into wanting paper, crayons, special markers, white board, etc. Then, once all of the presents were sorted, we’d all count how much everyone had. It was always a “I have 9!” “Yea? Well i have 10!” And then my brother, who is the oldest of all the kids, would only have 4 and I’d start to feel bad for him. In reality, it wasn’t about the amount of presents that you get, but it’s hard for an 8 year old to really understand that.
Then I’d wake up my brother super early on Christmas Day and sort the presents between the 4 of us — mom, dad, brother, me. We’d do it all over again and then spend the rest of the day playing with our new toys. We truly did not realize how lucky we were until we were old enough to look back on it and see how blessed we were to have the family and opportunities that we do.
Move to my “senior” year of college/ first year of grad school. I just finished a hard first semester, full of non-stop studying and always worrying about what tests were next week and how much time I had to study for each one while also worrying about the presentations and journals I had due in the meantime. Now, this break is more than just looking forward to presents. This isn’t the first Christmas that I’ve realized just how important it is to treasure family, but the realization grows as I do, year by year.
Every break that I have to come home and spend time with family is time where I “force” the whole family to get together. Whether its “dragging” my cousins along with me to help decorate my grandparents house even when they just want to sit at home and play xbox, or when I arrange my brother’s new (at the time) girl friend to come carve pumpkins with us sort-of-kind-of behind his back, or when I plan an impromptu lunch out, family has turned into one of the most important things in my life. The holidays are a time when I get to truly embrace the time I have with my family, when I can completely relax between semesters (unless it’s Thanksgiving break, then I’ll always have some sort of school lingering over me), and when I can force hugs upon my cousins and brother as much as possible. It’s a time that I get to just sit and read on the couch next to my mom, watch cheesy hallmark movies with the family, and randomly cross the street to say hi to my aunt whenever I please. It’s a time that I get to do things for my family, stop by my grandparents to drop off some good ol’ large print library books, and help them with whatever they may need. It’s time when I get to truly enjoy the love that family brings to the table.
Needless to say, Christmastime isn’t about counting the presents anymore. It’s about time spent with family… like continuing our tradition of making Lefse every Christmas Eve morning, playing games and doing puzzles, watching movies, sleeping in, etc. It’s about giving presents rather than receiving, seeing them smile when they open their gifts.
Honestly, I’ve got to say that I like this new Christmas meaning a lot better than how many presents I get. PLUS, now I get to grow the family with my wonderful fiancé and his family. Here’s to many more Christmastimes!
A special shout-out to my family for being an amazing, loving group of funny weirdos. I love you!