Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Decorating Alone, Or How Father Time Stole Christmas

I've been fighting them on this for a few years now, but ever since I left for college, my family has slowly but surely been boycotting Christmas. Well, "boycotting" may be a strong the very least, they're rather disinterested. My mom dragged the dusty boxes of decorations up from the basement, but has left them sitting in the living room for weeks, bothering only to put a wreath on the front door. Her excuse is that I love putting decorations up, so they were "waiting for me." (Feel free to roll your eyes.) When I told my siblings I wanted to put the decorations up, their response was, "Why?!" My brother and sister also adamantly refuse to get a tree this year. They say there's no point. They didn't want one last year either, but I wore my mom down. As it's mere minutes from being December 21st, however, I think this year will be the first year of my life we don't journey to the Christmas tree farm to pick out and cut down our tree. The tradition is dead. My brother asked me what I wanted for Christmas via text, and my dad and I have lost all forms of surprise. I want to sneak out to Walmart tomorrow to get the ingredients to make Christmas cookies surprise the family when they come home from school on Friday, but somehow I just don't think they'd appreciate the time I took to mold each little piece. It seems there's no point in even hooking up the DVD player to watch Rudolph, Frosty, and The Year Without a Santa Claus; I'll watch them on my computer.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that my entire household is void of Christmas spirit, and no one cares but me. I went away to school and my family became Grinches! It's the middle of the night, and I'm sitting in my living room surrounded by garland that I wanted to wrap around the banisters, but I can't find the staple gun, and I'm a little PMSy, so I'm just wallowing in how useless it seems to decorate if I'm only decorating for myself. 

What happened to my family? Once upon a time we started decorating the very first weekend of December. Christmas music was always playing throughout the house, and the tree was the featured object in the living room. It was always so big that we couldn't put the angel on the top because the top bent over against the ceiling already, and decorating it was an EVENT that the whole family had to be present for. We made what seemed like more cookies than we could possibly eat (though that never proved to be an issue). We left cookies and milk out for Santa, and reindeer treats for Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. Our lights outside were never particularly fancy, but they were bright, and made me feel warm and fuzzy inside when I came home at night. We all sat down to watch our Christmas movies together on VHS--the old Claymation Rudolph and The Year Without a Santa Claus movies, the animated Frosty, Charlie Brown Christmas, classics like The Preacher's Wife. Once upon a time, we were jolly.

And then we grew up and apart. My little sister is graduating from high school this year. My brother is a year younger than her. They're working on Christmas eve, for goodness sake! I can't speak for certain, but to the best of my understanding, after I left for college, there were individual rooms on individual floors of the house for every member of my family (we have a split-level house), and my family basically stopped regularly interacting throughout the day. We're not close anymore. No one has come out and directly said this, but it seems to me like everyone feels like the whole Christmas thing is too family-y for us to engage in. Like we outgrew it or something. WHO OUTGROWS CHRISTMAS?! It's the most wonderful time of the year! 

I will admit that it gets harder to think of things to ask for for Christmas as I get older. Well, even when I was a kid, I was never the kind to have a Christmas list that went on for miles and miles. I never really asked for big things; I'd much prefer a collection of little things. I was the oldest, and I feel like I always knew Christmas was a struggle for my mom [and my ex-stepfather of whom I don't like to speak], so tried to not be much of a burden. My dad has always half-criticized and half-condemned me for never asking for anything, and not much has changed. Now, generally speaking, when I want/need something, I just buy it. But I do generally keep a wishlist, or more accurately, a list of things I haven't gotten around to purchasing for myself yet, that can be picked and chosen from for gift-giving occasions. I understand that maybe not everyone does this, but it can't be too hard to wrack your brain and go 'Oh, I could use...' or 'What would make my living space/wardrobe/morning routine/study habits/any-other-aspect-of-my-life better?' 

And I love GIVING presents so much! I love scouring the internet for hours on end while I should be reading / doing my damn thesis, clicking the next button thoooouuuusands of times until I find THE PERFECT PRESENT when I'm surprising someone, or the best-rated-and-coolest-featured-in-a-particular-price-range of a specific thing I was asked for. I love wrapping it and that feeling of anticipation you get before the exchange. I love the shininess and the colors and the warmth in the midst of the cold that the season brings. I love getting to be a kid and an adult at the same time. I. love. Christmas. And I don't care what my family thinks; I WILL BE JOLLY! 

...But what's the point of coming home for the holidays if you're the only person celebrating? What's Christmas without traditions, without joy, without spirit? No one ever wishes anyone an apathetic Christmas...


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