I can’t believe that it’s that time again. I know I’ve been quite busy this year, but that still doesn’t explain why, as I get older, Christmas becomes less and less of an eagerly awaited day.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the festive season (wild, all-consuming hordes of shoppers aside), and I definitely sync with the whole “peace and goodwill to all” vibe that the holidays bring. Any day that gets us a-lovin’ each other is a good day to me. But where did my Christmas spirit go?

A Chinese-Canadian Christmas

When I was a kid, we used to almost explode from pre-Christmas excitement. My family has always celebrated a straight up, religion-free Christmas: artifical tree, turkey in the oven, family gatherings, and lots of photographs were the annual touchstones of the season. We’d hang fake-fur stockings by the front door mantle (my oldest brother Chris somehow getting the biggest one), and my dad would blast the excruciatingly saccharine A James Last Christmas over and over again until cotton candy popped out of my ears.

My mom would slowly add to a burgeoning pile of wrapped presents under our Eaton’s special Christmas tree, until the anticipation of the 25th was almost too much to bear. I think my younger sister and I, being much younger than my older brothers, would start shimmying with excitement around the 14th or so. Our vibrations would get increasingly kinetic until Christmas Eve, where we would be almost humming with eagerness.

Where coal starts to appear everywhere

Of course, looking back I realize that a large portion of my “holiday spirit” was actually just the anticipation of wildly rending wrapping paper (and that truly was it; I seem to remember my parents wrapping a few extra boxes with nothing in them just to appease our insatiable urge to unwrap things). As I got older and moved away from the city, the holidays became more about reuniting with the family and the warming glow of friends and festivities.

Christmas WindowIn the last few years, though, Christmas has just stopped… being. It’s stopped being the gigantic pink elephant behind the door that we can’t wait to see, and instead become just another holiday. The clincher this year was my brothers’ decision (made by them without any consultation with the rest of us) that they wouldn’t exchange gifts with the rest of us; just for my parents, and for my nephew. Bah humbug, indeed.

The truth of the matter is, even with the joy that the holidays bring, Christmas makes me feel a little sad. I look back on the innocence and the wide-eyed enthusiasm that I used to have for the season and wonder where that kid has gone. With the increasingly frequent excursions that work undertakes on almost everything else in my life, I haven’t had much time this year to luxuriate in the warmth of the season.

The Yule, they are a-changin’

I’m deeply thankful for many things, though, and I suppose that’s what the holidays bring to me more and more each year: appreciation. I’m thankful that I have a wonderful and loving girlfriend and cat family. I thankful for the continuing health and happiness of my parents and the rest of my family, and for the friendships that I’ve made over the years that continue to bring surprise, laughter, and delight. And I’m thankful that I’m gainfully employed, and that I enjoy working in a place where I can make a difference.

Now that I’ve written these things, I realize that it’s not that Christmas has changed; I have. It’s no longer about a two-week buzz of anticipation, and it’s no longer about the gifts or the ripping of wrapping paper. It’s a continuing cycle of happiness, fraternity, and warmth that weaves its way through the entire year, and Christmas is just a day that we allow ourselves to appreciate what we have.

In that sense, I am truly lucky.

Happy Holidays to all of the Hoovillians

Happy holidays to everyone that visits here and sends me e-mails or comments - you know who you are, and you make all of this fun, interesting, and fulfilling.

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