Christmas: Then and Now

Hi. My name is Isis. And I hate Christmas.

Yup. I’m basically the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge combined. And since it’s that time of the year once again, I decided to finally reflect. You know, look back on my history of Christmases that led me to this point in my life. Where I have simply accepted that, yes, I fucking hate Christmas.

But I haven’t always hated Christmas. Oh, no. In fact, Christmas was once my favorite holiday of the year. It was the most beautiful time, and every year I waited desperately for the day to come. I lived in Mexico, and I come from a large extended family. We used to be close. See, when we decided to come together, we did. There were no buts. My entire family gathered at my grandparents’ house, up on a hill near the coast in Manzanillo, Colima.

Christmas Eve was paradise. I would wear a pretty dress, new shoes, and a big smile. I would wait around outside for my entire family to arrive throughout the day. Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends–they would all pile in, even the neighbors who knew us all so well. They would stack all of the presents under the Christmas tree full of colorful lights. Out on the street, where no cars would ever come (because it was a hill), we would put out chairs and hang up ornaments and more lights, and there would be music playing loudly. The neighbors never complained because they were part of the celebration.

Once we were all gathered, we would eat some of the best food ever made. There was always so much food and so many desserts and so many laughs and smiles and hugs. I had a shitload of cousins around my age who would just agree to play with me at any game I would come up with. I was never bored. I wasn’t even thinking about the presents waiting to be unwrapped under the tree. None of us were. We danced with each other, we danced with ourselves. At midnight, we’d open presents, and continue dancing. We stayed up until early Christmas morning. The clock could strike 6AM and we could still be dancing.

That was my Christmas for most of my childhood, up until I was 7. I remember it clearly. I remember how wonderful it was to have this holiday every year. I lived for it. I wanted it to go on forever. I didn’t even have to be lied to about Santa Claus, because no one ever mentioned him in Mexico. I didn’t have any whimsical Christmases. I just had good times with people I loved. With my family.

Fast forward a few years later. I’m 9. I’m in a brand new country. America. Huge. Freeways. No more house on the hill. Now only a tiny apartment. But hey, at least I have my mom, my dad, my sister, my brother, my aunt. We’re together. Had we ever been together like this before? All of us? Why does it feel like we’re so alone. We’re sitting in the living room couches, watching TV. My brother rolls in a brand new pink bike for me. I thank him. I give my brother and sister some stuffed animals I bought them for Christmas. They thank me. My dad gives me money. We eat a nice meal. We watch some more TV. Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we yawn.

Hey, maybe the Christmas cheer is lost because I’m getting older. I decided then that I wouldn’t give up on Christmas just yet. It was too special and important of a holiday for me to think of it as anything less than extraordinary. Christmas had nothing but great memories for me. Why should it change all of a sudden?

My brother moved far away. But it’s okay, my sister had kids. We lose some, we gain some. It’s Christmas. We’re hanging out. We’re watching TV. Sitting around. We’re eating good food. We’re drinking from fancy wine cups, but we’re drinking soda. We’re laughing. We’re talking. It’s okay.

I’m in high school now. I’m excited because even though the last few Christmases haven’t been as amazing as I’d wished, I still want to believe this year will be better. I’m naive, can you blame me? Anyway, we’re at a house now. It’s bigger. More spacious. Cosy. We’re drinking hot chocolate. We’re okay. My dad brings his girlfriend, so my mom makes a fuss and locks herself in the kids’ bedroom. My sister won’t kick my dad’s girlfriend out just to please my mom. I have to go from the bedroom to the living room back and forth because I feel bad being in one place too long. Should I side with my mom or my sister? It’s pretty early in the night, Christmas Eve. Finally, my mom snaps at my dad’s girlfriend, at my sister, and takes my presents and me back home. We get home, she apologizes for taking me away from the rest of my family, and she goes to bed. It’s not even midnight yet, and I’m alone. I unwrap my presents while watching TV in the living room.

I don’t think I had much faith in Christmas after that time. But every year I tried to put some effort into it. I put up my tree, decorated it. I tried. Believe me, I did. Every year after that one I tried to like Christmas, tried to renew my excitement at the thought of this holiday. I watched the appropriate movies. I listened to the appropriate songs. I did everything I could to get myself into the holiday spirit.

This is my breaking point. It’s 2014, I’m 21 years old, and I hate Christmas. I give up. I don’t have any expectations for this Christmas. The once cheery holiday is now nothing but a day I’ll spend watching TV with my family. I guess that’s the usual for most American families. Maybe if I’d always known nothing but boring Christmases, I wouldn’t feel this way.

I was told earlier this week that I’m too young to renounce myself from Christmas. That I’ve got so many years ahead of me, and that I might change my mind about this holiday, come to love it again. I’m not saying I won’t. I know this hatred might disappear someday. But I just think it’s important for me to accept that right now, I despise Christmas.

Call me the Grinch. Good luck trying to make my heart grow twice its size.


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