It's a hard truth to face, but the older you get the more cynical, bitter and skeptical of most things you get. We're not quite there yet, but the further we crawl into the dark hole of our 20s, the closer we get to becoming what our old, crotchety, perpetually upset grandparents are right now. When we were kids, CHILDREN, Christmas was a time of Santa Claus, presents under the tree, and praying non-stop and pretty selfishly to sweet lord baby Jesus that you'd get that Barbie dollhouse you've been wanting. Spoiled brat.
We left cookies out for the fat, bearded man to devour (as if his cholesterol levels weren't already sky-high), could barely sleep in anticipation for the morning when we'd get to see what beautifully wrapped presents he had left us (hadn't you seen this wrapping paper somewhere before...?), and rejoice in the BEST DAY OF THE YEAR - CHRISTMAS, BITCHES.
Then, you went to college. That's when the downfall began. Christmas stopped being about Christmas and more about how many friends you could fit into seeing in one night during your break from school. How drunk could you get with old high school friends and how creative could you get with how you were going to get home? I mean, obviously cabs weren't an option quite yet. What the fuck were CABS? You didn't take cabs around from bar to bar in your college town, so you weren't about to start now. Besides, you were getting sauced at your friend's parent's house and laughing with them about how much older you now were (19) and how NOT awkward it was to be drinking WITH them rather than FROM them (super awkward, still). Without realizing it, through these actions you were pulling a total grinch on Christmas - you were sucking the life blood that is tidings and cheer out of the beloved, innocent holiday.
And it only got worse. Once you hit "young adulthood," i.e. being in the "real" world, with a "real" job, with a "real" low income, you were expected to BUY PEOPLE PRESENTS. What was this shit? You mean homemade cards and gift certificates "GOOD FOR 1 HUG" weren't gonna cut it anymore? No! NO! HOW DO I BUY GIFTS FOR OTHERS AND THINK OF ANYONE BUT ME EVER?
Not only that, but in the young adulthood version of Christmas, you're expected to travel to see family. It's not like college winter breaks - those are just apart of it all and it's like where the hell else are you gonna go during that entire 6 weeks off? To your boyfriend's? Not unless you wanna start WWIII with your family for being a too-attached, too serious girlfriend who no longer loves her family. No. You're expected to request days off from your annual salary job, buy your own ticket home and coordinate everything ON YOUR OWN. you make at least 5 figures now - mommy and daddy aren't gonna hold your hand and relay your AAdvantage number back to you. Better have that shit written down somewhere.
And if you live in the same town as your family who is hosting Christmas, be prepared to help out. And I'm talking like cooking and baking for and with your mom, arriving early and leaving late, maybe even... GASP... clearing the table and CLEANING ALL THE DISHES? College you was lazy and no one expected much out of your sorry ass other than saying "thank you" and "sure beats the dorm food, HAR HAR!" Let's be honest - they're just happy you're showered and aren't dead in a frat house. But you could probably stand to lose a few pounds.
Now that you're a semi-functioning "adult," Christmas is stressful. You're already pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and now you have to buy not only your family decent presents, but your friends gifts, too. That's the other thing about grown-up Christmas. You're not a poor dumbass anymore who buys their friends $5 gag gifts and you both laugh it off and know you love each other. Well, I mean - you're still poor. Of course. But not college poor. Not "HAHA you guys! I literally have $2 in my bank account until my dad gives me this week's allowance!" poor. More like "Once I pay rent and bills, I'll have just enough money to eat for the next few weeks until I get paid again unless I spend most of that on clothes, which I always do and UGH. SHOULDN'T I BE THINNER SINCE I DON'T EVEN SPEND MONEY ON THAT MUCH FOOD?" poor. You have to get your true friends - the ones you actually really, deeply, seriously care about - REAL presents. Like $20 presents. $30 presents. In some cases, $50 presents. I know, I know. It's a lot of money. It is. That's like a couple of Chipotle burritos and at least 3-5 vodka waters with a splash of grapefruit juice. But grown-up Christmas is all about PRIORITIES and STRESS and BEING EVEN POORER THAN WHEN YOU STARTED.
I realize all I've said has been incredibly cynical and negative, but I'm just trying to speak the truth y'all. Yes, of course there are still blissful, warm moments that involve Christmastime, but the stress and organizing and planning that leads up to those moments (WHEN are you going to buy presents? WHERE are you going to buy presents? Certainly not at the mall. It's already a shit storm over there, with cars parked on the grass like a goddamn tailgate party. You can go to smaller, one-off boutiques but they close at 6pm and you don't even get off work until then. Maybe you can just go to Target and figure it all out there. I mean, they have everything. Pretty sure the meaning of life is on aisle 6. If you can't find it- ask a store associate. They have backstock) is enough to make someone want to boycott the entire holiday...
Much like a well known show with a well known character who did just that (if you know what I'm referring to here, we can be friends. Best friends, even).
My biggest tip for all this I guess is: keep it simple. Do yourself a million favors in one by getting presents early and putting them away. Yes, it's super responsible to do and kind of lame and makes you feel like a mom, but at least you won't be crying stress tears a few days before the holiday, sending whiny texts to your friends about long lines, completely wiped-out stock and how much you DON'T wanna be doing this right now. Offer to bring the designated Christmas host something to contribute to the Christmas meal and perhaps her/his drink of choice (to ease the pain). If you're traveling, buy that shit MONTHS in advance so you aren't having to road trip or spend your entire Christmas bonus on a plane ticket. Just - be the young adult you are and plan as much in advance as lazily possible.
And, with that, I leave you all with the singleton holiday card I concocted for my friends and sent out like a real adult with a real family and real holiday updates to give. I hope they all put it on their Christmas card tree holders that they don't yet have.
this is the front
this is the back... with my poem.
MERRY DICKMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!