The Christmas Tree
Putting up and decorating the tree is by far one of my favourite things to do. Ever since I was little it was something we could do as a family. Christmas music would fill the air and our tree was trimmed with the most hideous ornaments, (made especially by yours truly and the brothers), and the tree came out looking like a rainbow had thrown up all over it. Super dad would lift us up to place the star/angel on top of the tree. Every year we switched it up so when it was your turn...you were on top of the world. Literally at that age. Perfect right?
This year, I decorated (our fake) Christmas tree alone. I brought it up from the basement. I wrestled with it trying to figure out how to put it together and get it to light. Younger brother did assist me but then quickly retired to play video games. So I hauled out the Christmas decorations, now matched only to silver and gold and decorated our perfect tree. I did have Christmas music playing in the background but younger brother squashed that as soon as it happened and Sportscentre filled the air instead. The angel was placed on top by younger brother, with no stool or chair or lift. He can reach it. (I would've needed a boost).
Extended Family Christmas
For the most part, celebrations on dad's side haven't changed too much. His side of the family is fond of tradition and not fond of change. Of course new people are thrown into the mix as our family grows. But we still eat too much food, try to beat grandpa at euchre (inevitably failing), and the same jokes are still muttered around the table ("more heavy gravy?"). I'm still forced to be the "santa" and hand out presents from the tree. At 25, it's just embarrassing. Thank goodness the hat wasn't there. But as the youngest person is 22, the wine flows quickly and the whiskey is poured (Golden Wedding anyone?). Grandma calls me an alcoholic and it's time to go home.
On my mom's side, there are no toddlers running around either and the glasses of wine are encouraged. Inappropriate jokes are made and good times are had by all. It's an interesting time when everyone is old enough to just enjoy each other's company without having to worry about small children.
Getting together with Friends
As a university student, coming home for Christmas was a time filled with haziness and beer soaked Christmas sweaters. This is something that has definitely changed. I am now 25, and most of my friends have "real" jobs, or significant others, or kids, I find myself going stir crazy trying to find people who have as much free time as me. I've never enjoyed drinking alone but I may have to change my opinion on the matter.
Spending money is something I am very good at. I'm not sure how I do it so easily, but it's magical how I can quickly turn something into nothing. As a kid, mom or dad did most of the shopping for me. Of course I picked out that one really bad gift I thought was amazing. Christmas pin for mom and tie for dad. Their faces never showed their true feelings of disappointment. And of course, as a kid, let's be honest, we're selfish creatures. It was about what you had under the tree. You hoped that oversized package so carefully wrapped and tied was yours. And you hoped being extra good for the month of December was good enough to make up for all year long in Santa's eyes. It usually was.
As an adult, I really do love Christmas shopping. Yes the stores are crowded and lines are terrible. But it is worth it to find that perfect gift for someone and on Christmas morning watch them tear away the paper to reveal that great idea you had. So I can truly say I've matured to the point that it's more about what I give than what I get. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not completely unselfish. I know myself well. I will still wake up at an ungodly hour to peek at my stocking stuffed with goodies and impatiently wait for dad to get home from chores and wake up the household.
Of course there are classic Christmas traditions that will never change or leave my life. National Lampoon's Christmas vacation and cousin Eddie's antics, taboozing, ugly Christmas sweaters, and of course getting to spend time with some of my favourite people.
Then there are the things you are so glad you've grown out of (peeking for one...I'm so sorry mom, I was a snoopy little girl), and the things you get to grow into (Christmas morning shots with the family!)
So I guess when you reach the quarter life mark things are bound to change. Thank God we have alcohol to get us through this difficult time.