Here's the thing: it's almost become cliche to tell someone what "Christmas means to you" because we all know the right answer is: Christmas isn't about the presents, and it's not about the commercialization and the capitalism, it's more then that.
But it's hard to ignore where you come from.
And most of us here, reading blogs and using social media, we're the generation that "could do anything." Our parents told us to "Dream as big as you can, be anything you want." These thoughts were ingrained in us from a young age. I think because it was a departure from how our parents were raised. Before us, things were a bit more straight-forward. You went to school, graduated, got a job, had kids. And while it's true that "The American Dream" started long before our parent's generation, in their minds, making all our dreams come true was a number one priority, because it's what they wanted for themselves. It was a philosophy of bringing us up, with the best of intentions of course (these things aren't always driven by selfish motivations or the need to live vicariously, through the next generation). But it was simply a progression of history rooted in capitalism and the human drive to always make things bigger, better, brighter, shinier and more fulfilling for the individual.
And of course, Christmas, with all it's potential to be the most miraculous day of the year, it became a holiday amplified by this sentiment.
But you know it's funny, for all the plentiful moments I was blessed to have in my childhood, I somehow learned to yearn for the simplicity for more straightforward times.
As I became a bit older, like 12 or 13, I was always drawn to the idea of a pioneer or Victorian Christmas. Candles lit. A Christmas tree picked out on Christmas day itself. Christmas started to become this feeling of a need to return to what was once old, and revered. I wanted to hole up with my family.
And then as my sisters got older, married and had kids of their own, I was still a teenager and I longed for a day with just the original 5 of us. But obviously it wasn't my day to dictate, and it was of course hard to put that into words when you're a 15 year-old who feels a little bit trapped in the bustle of everyone else's life around you. I was scratching and clawing for that feeling I'd left behind in Christmases past, where the most difficult thing you have to think about during the holidays is whether or not your letter will get to Santa on time.
When I was 16 my mom was going through Chemo over Christmas. She was the decorator, the one who fussed over the size of the tree and making the lights fall "just so." But that year of course she didn't have the drive to put it all together. I was overcome with the need to push Cancer treatment out of the way, and that was the Christmas I made my dad put up three Christmas trees, so no matter what room you went into, you'd be hit in the face with a blast of cheeriness. I didn't realize I was doing it, but at the time I was unknowingly trying to cover up the real life that we were surrounded by that year.
I think with all these things combined, I've developed my own unique perspective of Christmas, just as most of you will probably have as well. Christmas, more then any other day of the year, is a collection of where I've come from, and what sort of values I carry with me. Like I was taught, I never stop hoping for miracles around Christmas-time, but in my own way, I'm less likely to think they'll come wrapped in a bow. And I still like a Christmas decoration hanging from every point of view in my house, because why not try to push out all the fear and uncertainty for a few weeks of the year? More then anything, I like the idea that on Christmas, nothing else matters except keeping that feeling of hope alive.
What does Christmas mean to you?! Link up your own story below!