Life happens: The grown-up side of Christmas
By Aprill Brandon
Something very strange has been going on these past few weeks. Dec. 1 has come and gone. It has come and gone and I didn't even care. I haven't started decorating, I haven't annoyed my husband by belting out my dirty version of "Carol of the Bells," and I haven't even had a sip of eggnog yet.
It's my favorite holiday, and I haven't even acknowledged it.
But I think I know why. See, depending on your age, the holiday season can be perceived in many different ways.
As a kid, it's all shiny, shiny lights and cookies and presents and big, fat men with beards whom you've never met but nonetheless are guaranteeing to do everything within their vast magical powers to make sure YOU personally have a very merry Christmas.
As a teenager, it means three weeks off school, the anticipation of your mom finally buying you those "ridiculously over-priced" (her words) pants with the vaguely suggestive word on the rear that you'll just DIE without and hanging out with your cool, older cousin with the tattoo at grandma's.
In your early 20s, it means one month of never-ending rounds of eggnog and wine and seasonal beer and reddish-looking cocktails with cutesy names like North Poletini and Santa's Sleigh Bomb at hip holiday parties and festively decorated bars. And then going to your parents where they feed you and give you lots of presents and do your laundry if you ask nicely enough and then give you all the leftovers to boot because you "look too skinny."
But then, one day you're married and 30 and BOOM! You realize it's December, but you wouldn't know it from YOUR house, which still has up an odd mixture of Fourth of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving decor. And it's all because YOU are suddenly in charge of MAKING Christmas happen. And that's when you cross the threshold from "this is the most wonderful time of year" to "can we just skip Christmas this year and head to the Bahamas?"
Because now, when that massive ball of Christmas lights roughly the size of Utah needs untangled, that angry, throbbing vein is appearing on YOUR forehead, and not humorously on your father's. And now when you hear "Silver Bells" for the fourth time before you've even had breakfast, it is no longer "festive" but some sort of sadistic audio torture.
Suddenly, you're Googling how much the going rate for a semi-decent kidney is on the black market in order to afford gifts for your husband, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, in-laws and even your stupid dog because your husband thinks it's mean if little Buffy doesn't get at least one chew toy. Not to mention, now it's a faux pas to not buy gifts for your mailman, hairdresser, neighbor, boss, co-workers, cousin's baby, mother-in-law's dog and the barista who serves you your Peppermint Mocha every morning.
And while before you always insisted that artificial Christmas trees were just so "bourgeois" and that when you had your OWN home, you wouldn't be caught dead without a real pine tree, this year your corner is inhabited by a $19.99 three-foot tall fake tree that looks like it died of some horrible fake tree disease in 1974. And then you stuffed it with some pine-scented air-freshners from your car.
And even though you swore you were going to make gingerbread cookies from scratch this year, two minutes inside the store made you grab the closest pre-packaged desert-like item and SPRINT back to your car out of a not-entirely-unreasonable fear of being stabbed by a soccer mom with a candy cane.
And let's not even get into attempting to make plans to travel to spend the holidays with your family, or maybe your in-laws, and having to decide which one and if you can even afford it and if you and your husband and your stupid dog can even survive a 14-hour road trip in heavy traffic without killing each other.
Of course, come Christmas Eve, when everything is finally done, you'll finally find yourself falling under the magic spell of the season. And so you snuggle down on the couch to watch "Miracle on 34th Street" with some eggnog and sigh a sigh of contentment. Because it's Christmas. And it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
Until you realize you don't even have kids yet.
And everything is only going to get worse when you do.
Aprill Brandon is a columnist for the Advocate. Her column runs every two weeks in the Your Life section. Comment on this story at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.