My life did not turn out the way I would have expected.
That’s not to say it’s worse — just different.
After growing up in a rural area, I thought I’d live in a city forever. I now live in the suburbs with a yard that requires constant upkeep.
I’m a neat freak that prefers sleek modern designs with sharp contrasts, and minimalist decor. I live in a cozy colonial home with a woman that crafts and a five-year-old. Minimalism is not an option.
Suffice it to say, reality has not followed much of my plans. The same has become true with regards to the holidays.
Once I was out of Santa territory (spoiler alert!), Christmas became less important to me. That’s not rare, but I was surrounded by people that didn’t get the memo. My wife’s family celebrates as if they’re from the North Pole — everyone buys for everyone, stockings are so full they’re overflowing, there’s wrapping paper all over the floor. And there were no kids around. It was a room full of adults that treat Christmas the same way they did as children.
That’s inspiring. It can also be annoying.
I’ve always found it comically ironic that nearly everyone spends this “season of joy” stressed out, racking up consumer debt and staying up late into the night to wrap presents just to properly commemorate the holiday. For a nation that loves Christmas, we spend the season doing things we hate.
I simply cut out the paradox. I saw it as a nuisance, an obligation, just one more thing to do along with laundry and grocery shopping. Why am I buying a shirt for an adult that can buy his own shirt? If it’s the thought that counts, I thought all of it was stupid and unnecessary. Amazing for children, sure, but not for childless adults.
And since I would never have children…
It has been a slow build. Infants don’t know what’s going on and one-year-olds rip everything apart whether they’re supposed to or not anyway.
But every year has been better than the other before. Once children begin to understand the concept and learn about Santa Claus, the season really does take on a magical quality.
Logically, many of the norms and traditions are ridiculous, like bringing a live tree from outside and setting it up in the living room. But my kid’s excitement is just so contagious. Every bedtime book is somehow focused on Christmas and every morning, the first thing she does when she comes downstairs is to move the countdown of days one spot closer and then squeal about it’s almost here.
My wife has had to stop me from buying things for her. I can’t help it. That look on her face when she opens that special gift that she has been thinking about for months and whispered to Santa is priceless. It can’t be beat. It’s makes it — all of it — worth it.
She’s gotten me so caught up that I’m doing things I never would’ve imagined. I was intent on taking her to see the tree at Rockefeller Plaza and the light show at Saks. Normally, I would’ve chafed and complained (my poor wife). It was chilly. Traffic was crazy. Parking was expensive. It was so crowded that we couldn’t move. A stampede could have broken out any moment. It was a nightmare.
And it was wonderful.
Christopher Pierznik’s nine books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.