Why doesn’t Christmas feel the same anymore?

Four-year-old Rachel gleefully tears open a present on Christmas morning.

Jeannie Blackman

Four-year-old Rachel gleefully tears open a present on Christmas morning.

Rachel Blackman, Staff Writer

There is no feeling quite like being a kid on Christmas morning and the overwhelming anticipation of tearing open every gift under the tree. Not being able to fall asleep on Christmas Eve and being the first in your house to wake up in the morning are essential memories from being a child during Christmastime.  Even in the month leading up to Christmas, there seemed to be a certain festive feeling in the air that made everything seem cozy and magical.

Suddenly as a teenager, that magical feeling seems to have disappeared and Christmas feels like just another day of the year. As hard as I try to get myself in the festive spirit, it just doesn’t feel the same as it did when I was a kid. I force myself to listen to Christmas music and decorate my room in hopes of bringing back that joy, but I am only left disappointed that I don’t feel the same as I did in my childhood. Psychologist Krystine Batcho notes that these feelings are deeply rooted in nostalgia, as “we know we can never again enjoy those wondrous feelings and beliefs… It isn’t surprising, then, that many people are disappointed when they don’t experience the fulfillment of the promise of Christmas.”

When I was a kid, Christmas was just Christmas, a time for gifting, baking and spending with family, and there was nothing else to worry about. Unfortunately, growing up takes away that luxury. Our problems no longer go away over the holiday season, and life just goes on. In addition to this, for many people Christmas is associated with stress and anxiety. Psychologist Linda Blair says that “listening to Christmas music too early into the holiday season may affect mental health by triggering feelings of stress.” By the time we reach December 25th, not only do we have to deal with our everyday problems, but we also have to deal with the additional stress of the holiday season. 

 To me, Christmas was never really about the holiday itself or even the presents that came with it. It was the smell of the Christmas tree, baking sugar cookies with my sister, wrapping presents and decorating the tree with family ornaments. By appreciating these memories and relieving some of the pressure of experiencing the season to its fullest, I have started to build back my appreciation for Christmas. It is important to remember that even though Christmas may not feel the same anymore, if we find the time to appreciate the little experiences that make the season so special, maybe it will start to feel magical again.