Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Through the Ages

Everyone in our house enjoyed Christmas this year. But I think we all enjoyed it for different reasons, and there were different aspects of the celebration that stood out for each of us. At different ages, each of us loves certain things about Christmas. Here are a few of the things that make Christmas special at various ages.

Age 0-2
Babies younger than age 2 don’t have much of a concept of Christmas. They don’t really know that it’s coming, they don’t understand that there will be presents, and both Santa Claus and the story of Jesus’ birth are beyond them. But they love the pretty lights and decorations. They love the cheerful and beautiful music that is always around during the Christmas season. And they love the crunch of wrapping paper and the pile of boxes and packing material they get to play with.

Age 3-6
In this phase of life, kids are very aware of the magic of Santa Claus and getting presents. They love getting to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for Christmas, they love performing in Christmas pageants, they love helping to pick out a Christmas tree (especially if they get to feed some reindeer while they’re doing it), they love helping to bake and decorate Christmas cookies, they get excited about helping to make a few special presents for family members, they love counting down the days until Christmas comes on an advent calendar, they love driving around town to look at Christmas lights, they love putting out milk and cookies for Santa, and most of all, they love unwrapping their presents on Christmas morning!

Age 7-12
Most kids at this age have stopped believing in Santa Claus, but they still look forward to making a list and getting presents. Since they’re “in on the secret,” they often love getting to help pick out presents for other family members and they adore getting to keep secrets from their parents. They like to help decorate the tree and wrap presents. They love watching all the Christmas movies and specials that they remember from past years. And they still love opening presents, especially special ones that they’ve been longing for all year.

Age 13-21
This age is all about the gift cards. Sure, presents are nice, as are cookies and decorating the tree (not that they’ll admit it at this age), but the teenage and college years are all about the cash. Also, having the freedom to go and hang out with your friends during school vacation without having to have a parent tagging along is awesome.

Age 21-28
The best part of Christmas in your 20s is the parties. Most 20-somethings finally have a little bit of disposable income as well as a home of their own (even if it’s only a studio apartment in a questionable neighborhood), and being able to host and/or attend Christmas parties togged out in a great dress and fabulous shoes is a definite highlight of the holiday season. Plus, Christmas is a very romantic time and it’s a great season to be in the throes of new love, which is likeliest at this age.

Age 29-39
Most people this age either have kids or are on the verge of having kids – or their friends and siblings do or are - so a highlight of their holiday season is getting presents for the children and watching the kids’ amazement and excitement about the holiday. At this point, many of us also have our own homes and we get to set new traditions for decorating and celebrating with our families. Our kids are old enough for a family outing to see the Nutcracker, or to catch a movie on Christmas night, or to go see a local production of A Christmas Carol. The best part of Christmas at this age is definitely spending time with your family.

Age 40-60
This is when many of us begin to step into the family patriarch/matriarch roles. We’re the ones organizing and hosting the family gatherings, taking over that duty from our parents. And in turn, we’re starting to pass on some of the holiday responsibilities to our own adult and nearly-adult kids: they may be the ones doing the bulk of putting up and decorating the tree, baking the Christmas cookies, finally shopping (and paying!) for the presents they’ll be giving. This is the time of life when we get to sit back and enjoy seeing the bustle of the holidays without having to be as much a part of that bustle.

Age 60+
This is the age when Christmas truly becomes about giving instead of receiving. By this age, most people have all the “stuff” they need and are, in fact, trying to get rid of stuff. So we can give not only new gifts, but we can pass along family heirlooms with sentimental value beyond measure. And aside from tangible gifts, this is the time of life when we can share our own childhood memories of Christmas with the next generation.

Yes, Christmas is wonderful at every age. From all the generations in our house to all the generations in yours, a very Merry Christmas season to you!

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