How growing up stole Christmas


Ciara Whimbush

The beloved winter holiday, Christmas, generates an omnipresent feeling of gratitude, cheer and joy. As children, this merry time of year carries a sense of never-ending enchantment. However, as those kids become adults, the real world begins to disrupt the once captivating and content world of Christmas time.

Ciara Whimbush, Reporter

The beloved holiday Christmas humbly began in Rome during the year 336, and soon spread and westernized when it arrived in ninth-century Germany. This time of year stands as a time when families come together to open presents, express gratitude and remember the reason for the season. As the holly jolly day modernized, it became increasingly centered around the demographic of people easily subjected to Christmas magic: children. Unfortunately, as those once wide-eyed grow up, the holiday season shrinks in importance. 

Through the birth of the contemporary Santa Claus in the nineteenth century, society immersed itself in the fairytale-esque culture surrounding Christmas. In the decades since his inception, tales of the North Pole, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and Elf of the Shelf enabled the naive nature of youth. However, As the prospects of adulthood become staggeringly real, the importance of the Christmas season diminishes as people mature. As people grow up and forge a new perception of the world, the experience they gain can not stay wrapped in the holidays. In the event of aging, that child-like adoration of the lively season sharply fades away.

Every year during the post-Halloween haze, numerous Christmas ads begin to appear on television screens, marketing to watchers on the perfect gifts for their loved ones. In the midst of the atHome store and Kay Jewelry commercials, a holiday marketed to center around family and togetherness quickly becomes lost in dollar signs. According to USA Today, the amount of projected American spending on Christmas stands at over $1 trillion, which accounts for online and in-person shopping. As shocking as the number looks, over the years Christmas has reigned at the top of the list of lucrative holidays in the United States. Children receive the convenient end of the Christmas spending bargain. They do not contribute to the fiscal responsibilities of the holiday and collect a seemingly endless amount of toys and games without seeing a receipt. The blind acceptance of presents comes from a place of ignorance. As people age into adulthood though, the price associated with Christmas becomes scarily prevalent, and an additional burden falls onto people when they transition from willing gift receivers to reluctant gift givers. While the costly nature of Xmas always existed, the financial turn-around from adolescent to adult stands as a demanding task. 

“I’m not sure if I would say that it [Christmas] has become more commercialized, [with it] already being one of the most largely celebrated holidays in the West. But I do think that now that I am older it is much easier to see the superficiality of the things that are supposed to make the holidays special. I love Christmas, but besides the average depressing reality of aging, I also have to confront the ever-present over-marketing of Christmas. Though I couldn’t be more excited to begin the holiday season, it feels like a mockery to use it for something as petty as money… I can’t convince myself it isn’t a marketing tactic to maximize holiday sales. The balance between the gift of giving and the pleasure of receiving seems to teeter closer and closer to the side of selfish reward every year,” magnet sophomore Tristan Mick said. 

Notoriously, children do not own the clearest priorities at their young, inexperienced age. In elementary school, kids mainly focus on when they will arrive to playdates, and not the struggles that impact their older siblings and parents in the driver’s seat. This same attitude transpires around Christmas; during December, the coveted 25th day holds prevalence in a young person’s mind. The end of a school’s winter semester manifests itself in holiday parties and free days and culminates when Santa comes down the chimney. In the adorable naivete of youth, one can afford the luxury of a closed-minded worldview. As a person grows up, however, the real world all too quickly becomes unavoidable. Pressing issues such as applying for college or moving out takes precedence over a seemingly juvenile Christmas time. In the age of early-action application and searching for scholarships, the weight of older responsibilities feels a stronger intensity than what could potentially lie under a Christmas tree. For several people, growing up can represent growing apart. One of the hallmarks of Christmas comes in the form of family togetherness and means a time when loved ones gather to celebrate. When the birds leave the nest, however, the distance between young adults and their families extends greater and greater. As young adults become independent and potentially estranged from their family members, an incentive to maintain holiday cheer weakens. 

 “I think just gradually as I’ve grown, Christmas has begun to become more real for me. When I was little I was caught up in the gifts and my family and I always had the same traditions we would do every single year. Now that I’m older, my family doesn’t all live together and we haven’t stayed consistent in our traditions which make[s] it harder to feel the Christmas spirit,” magnet senior Addie Quintana said.

Losing the Christmas spirit with age can appear to look near-sighted from the inside out, after all, the hope and joy presented during this season of yuletide and cheer can inspire people to curate and reproduce it when they grow up. Numerous people believe that the Christmas spirit manifests itself in the appreciation of loved ones and the importance of giving, and with those two traits, the spirit can transpire across any age. However, just because one can create a feeling, does not mean one can mirror it. 

As a child, Christmas feels like an encompassing world of all objects merry and bright. In youth, parents utilize this time of year as a chance to pretend, to shy away from whatever sad, pessimistic and real events occurring in the grown-up world, as a means to provide their families with a cheer-filled holiday. As kids develop, however, they learn about the world their parents so artfully hid around Christmas. When Santa and mom’s handwriting starts looking the same, that once prominent Christmas spirit slowly fades away, and the butterflies that used to come around each December die out. Trying to emulate a childhood feeling with an adult mindset will not end successfully. The best way to find holiday cheer as a grown-up starts by redefining what Christmas means.  

While a person should not aim to recreate the Christmas spirit through adolescent eyes, they can re-learn what the holiday and season mean to them with a new, worldly view. Positively progressing into maturity that comes with growing up can inspire young adults to construct their own definition of Christmas. Hopefully, that fully-fledged version can honor their younger selves. 

Happy Holidays from The Chant!