Christmas Traditions: Then and Now

When I was a kid: The Christmas season began around the house soon after Thanksgiving. Mother would clear away the autumn decor and bring out all her Christmas stuff. Often she’d put out candy as decoration, and then act surprised when we ate it. She’d also bake a whole bunch, making things she typically didn’t make at any other time of year. At some point we’d get a Christmas tree and there would be a big thing about decorating it. At some point during the month, most or all of the family would drive around to different neighborhoods, looking at the most well-decorated houses to be found.

These days: The closest thing I have to a Christmas decoration is a Santa-themed Mr. Potato Head in my room. I may or may not eat some Christmas-themed candy every so often. Sometimes I stop to look at the decorations throughout the city.

When I was a kid: On Christmas Eve, we were allowed to open one present in the evening. Christmas music plays pretty much non-stop.

These days: For the last couple of years, I worked on Christmas Eve. Then I go home and play video games. Also I open any presents I get as soon as I get them, since I’m an adult now and waiting is for chumps.

When I was a kid: When we woke up in the morning (and I always managed to wake up freakishly early on Christmas), we were allowed to go through our stockings and open the presents from Santa. The Santa presents were distinguished from the others in that Santa did not wrap his presents. Once Mother and Father were awake, we would open all of our presents one at a time. Then there was a giant garbage bag full of wrapping paper. I almost always got something I wanted, and sometimes a few things I didn’t care so much for. The rest of the day was spent playing with our new toys and eating.

These days: Christmas manages to be a day much like any other day off for me, except that the streets are a lot less crowded. I find somewhere that’s open and eat there, and maybe walk around or see a movie. Last year I saw The Fighter. It was pretty good.

The reasons I don’t really do anything on Christmas are simple ones. I don’t travel around because so far I only get two weeks of vacation a year, and I wouldn’t be able to take off on the week of Christmas anyways if I tried, because half the office already takes off for Christmas anyways. Someone has to stick around. I don’t go spend time with friends because they pretty much all leave the city, or are doing their own thing. Sometimes someone has a Christmas party, and sometimes I attend, though since they generally involve spending hours with a bunch of strangers, it’s not my favorite thing to do.

Holidays are just different for a bachelor in a big city than they are for kids or married guys or people with ample vacation time and a work schedule to match. I find the whole “do nothing and just simmer in the holiday” rather relaxing, actually.

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