The Christmas Spirit is elusive to me in my old age. When you're young, you don't go searching for it. It comes to you. It's about you. You can't escape it!
I remember being 7 or 8 years old and waking up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning and knowing it was slightly too early to wake up my parents and race downstairs. But it was strictly forbidden in my house to peak at the presents without the whole family awake so I'd smash (and I mean really smash) my face into the wall so I could bbaarrellly get a glimpse down the stairs and around the corner to the tree. I would do this in the early morning hours when the rest of the house was sleeping. Just me, in my pajamas, smashing my face against a wall. Quietly not breaking any rules. Typical.
When I made it into my early teens, it was slightly less cool to really love Christmas so I did so discreetly. At that point, we had a magnificent 12 foot tree that sat right in the middle of foyer, surrounded by the staircase. From my bed, I could see the star perched on top of the tree. I'd lie in bed every night, listening to the B96 (local radio station) "9 Most Wanted" and stare at that star, eyes squinted to make the lights shimmer. To this day, that's why I associate Ricky Martin's Livin' La Vida Loca with Christmas. Hey, it was 1999, don't judge.
When I made it into my 20's, the struggle started to happen. I had a job that I needed to paid my bills, I was in school full-time, I was mostly broke. It was hard to feel carefree. I watched all the standard Christmas movies and every so often something would flash me back to childhood (namely, spotting those bell-shaped Reese's peanut butter cups at the store) and I'd feel Christmas again. It wasn't until December 23rd when I was back home and baking all night with my sisters that everything felt right again.
Now that I'm 30, and the three of us sisters are married or soon-to-be-married, it's even harder to get together and have our baking marathon. I guess I didn't realize how lucky I was at 22, being just a train ride from home and Christmas baking. I still have tiny little glimmers of Christmasy moments but it's the memories of smashing my face on that wall, or squinting at that star, or baking with my sisters that really makes me think of Christmas. I'm so lucky to have those wonderful memories and I hope all of you have ones just like it.
Enjoy time with your families this holiday and find that Christmas spirit goddamnit.