It’s the holidays season! My friends and I (irl and online) are becoming a little nostalgic, and a bit pensive amidst the festivities around.
I’ve seen posts on social medias with a common theme:
Why do Christmas gets sadder as we get older?
(We are from a Catholic country, so we’re mostly Catholics who seriously celebrates Christmas)
I actually felt that. As I grow older and get busier with trying to have a stable life, Christmas (or any holiday for that matter) had become less and less a joyful celebration. Especially now that I am working in a non-Catholic country, Christmas is just a regular day at work.
I still remember when I was very young, Christmas and New Year were the most exciting events of the year. As is common in our country, we’d start decorating when the calendar hits the BER months (September~). Around November (after the All Soul’s Day and All Saint’s Day), we’d start building the big tree in our living room. It’s also the time us kids would start receiving greetings or gifts from relatives and godparents – which we couldn’t open til Christmas Eve.
On Dec. 24th, we’d spend the whole day cleaning the house, preparing food and just relaxing at home. At midnight, the whole family would gather at our small dining table and enjoy the food my mother made all day. After that, we would all open the gifts we received and have fun watching fireworks from the nearby school (which has yearly fireworks).
Sometimes, my parents’ friends would come visit and have a little party with us. We’d sing karaoke, have some dance off, or the children could safely go around the neighborhood to sing carols. I usually got my new year’s money from those jam sessions. LOL.
Those were the days….
When my sister and I was in college, we still stayed at home and celebrated Christmas and New Year with our parents. Except that our parents had a new set of friends they wanted to hang out with after the countdown. Sometimes, we’d just buy some take-out food from stores, so we wouldn’t have to cook all day. And of course, the older we get, the less gifts we received. Instead, it was me and my sister who started giving gifts to our young nieces and nephews (and sometimes even to their parents).
However, we’ve barely celebrated Christmas together for the last 5 years or so. My sister lived in Cebu for a couple years and just moved back to Manila a few years ago. A year after she moved back, I was transferred to Japan for work. I tried going home for the holidays, but airfares are just too expensive!
Anyways, the holidays had lost its magic on me a long time ago. When I started working, Christmas season became a dreaded holiday at work. We had to finish hundreds of projects before the 2-day vacation (we get back to work on 26th) and more projects before the New Year’s break. As part of my job, I was also involved in organizing the company party, and fixing the work schedule.
Those were really exhausting and stressful days.
Nowadays, it’s not really stressful, but just a bit lonely. I live alone, and the few friends I made had their own work to do, and family to spend time with during the holidays. I don’t wait for midnight anymore, since I had to sleep early for work. I haven’t even decorated my house for the past 2 years.
Christmas this year, I had a drink with a friend at a cheap izakaya (Japanese bar and restaurant), so I wasn’t quite lonely. I also had dinner with some new friends on Christmas Day. But I might be celebrating New Year’s Eve alone at home (I didn’t plan any out-of-town vacation due to budget shortage).
I’m just realizing now, Christmas doesn’t get sadder as we grow older. It’s just most of the holiday magic was from the innocence of our childhood. We didn’t have such complicated lives before, and the only problem we had was choosing which gift to open first. We had simple happiness when we were kids, and money was never an issue.
Christmas doesn’t change, nor will it ever change. It’s me who changed. We changed. We are no longer the wide-eyed children who believed a jolly old man could bring gifts all over the world in a single night. Some of us even questioned if there was really a child born in a manger thousands of years ago. (I still am having some serious doubts about religion – but that’s another topic altogether.)
Maybe someday, we’d reclaim some of the holiday magic we used to have. When we have kids of our own; small children who will be as excited as we were before. If we’d look at the world with a newborn’s eyes, life might be more magical and special. Maybe, we’d find something to make us believe again. Something that would restore our faith and give more meaning to holidays.
For now, I’m just looking forward to rest from work instead of having an extravagant celebration. A quiet night at home while talking to my sister is all I need.
For those who are lucky enough to still have the sparkle and dazzle of the holidays: cheers to that! 😊🎉✨