Preface: I come from a family of born and raised atheists; we’re talking Christmas as a cultural experience, not a religious one.
All my life Christmas has been this weird double edged sword. In all honesty, I think it’s that way for nearly everyone over the age of 8; there’s either way too much pressure to please, or youre alone and feel like you’re missing out. But I digress. For me, growing up, Christmas was always hard because of the crowds. All my siblings came home, the extended family reunions, the people smooshed into every crevice with no way to leave because im like 8. I spent a lot of time hiding in my bedroom crying and feeling sick. Plus there was that whole, my siblings are a decent amount older than me (5-10 years) and I was constantly lacking or feeling left out/like I was ruining their fun because I was little. But you know, Christmas is mother fucking christmas and theres presents! and turkey! and my brother actually (used to) comes home!
Things have been different in recent years. My oldest brother lives in the states with his wife and 4 kids and only comes to visit once every few Christmases (soon to be less, I’d imagine, as the kids get older). My other brother and sister both got married and now split their time between two houses. My parents (rightfully) deemed christmas gifts unneeded and Christmas shopping too stressful. Christmas became a meal. And thats ok, really, but it just felt… lonely? Like it used to be this huge reunion and we’d stay up all night playing card games and wrapping presents till 3 am with everyone home. Since my brother moved away when I was 8, that was sort of a rare special thing. Hype, I guess. And the past few years… I go to my parents, none of my siblings are there. There’s no need to wake up early in the morning because theres no gifts to open (or the ones that are there are for my niece and nephew who wont swing by till around 2 pm). I sleep in. Help peel vegetables while Dad cooks the turkey. At some point Amy and Sean stop by. We have Christmas dinner (that we cook) in a rented room at my Grandmothers (which is actually where I live now, too) because she can’t make it out to the house anymore. Only one of my mom’s siblings lives here now, so at some point about half of their family comes and eats turkey and bails. At some point, Jeff and Brandy show up for a couple hours before going back to Brandys, and Amy and Sean leave for Sean’s family dinner. Mom and I do dishes. There is talk of people coming to play games but it rarely pans out because of the kids. End scene.
Which is fine, because I’m in my 20’s and I’m single so what else is there to do, really? But we have family dinner once a week as it is. And on family dinner, I actually see my family. So in actuality, Christmas just became a Thursday night dinner were everyone is stressed, has less time, and has already eaten dinner before they show up. Which is just.. really fucking stupid. And it always just served to emphasize how everyone else has paired off and whatever and I’m just sort of stuck out in no man’s land. Which I should get used to…. anyway.
The point is. This year, my brother is coming home, and bringing his whole family: Julia and Elizabeth my amazingly smart nieces, and Charlotte and Cole, the twins whom I have barely met (and of course my sister in law!). Since this is a rare occurrence, everyone prioritizes my family Christmas events. My siblings make time to be at my house (though, Jeff still isnt around that much because Brandys sister who only comes home twice a year is usually around too). We actually buy gifts for all the kids. There are things under the tree. There are Christmas decorations. We make cookies. It’s real family. My borther’s family all stays at my parents place so we will be getting up at the ass crack of dawn, but it’s ok because theres little people who believe in Santa.
I miss them.
I don’t even mind that Christmas shopping stresses my parents out so bad that my father legit refused to be involved so i’ve been replacement santa this year or that my mom quit before she got to the stockings. My sister is on her way over so we can go make stockings for the adults. it’s just nice.
They get here in 2 days, and stay for 10. I’ve never been so happy about living in a 3 bedroom house with 5 adults and 4 children under 6 in my life.