Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Animal

I think it’s that time of the year.

Christmas starts earlier each year, and while many people hate it, I enjoy getting into the spirit a month early. When my local radio station began to play Christmas music on November 2nd (Halloween was delayed this year), I immediately tuned my car radio, bathroom radio, and all other music players to the station. I just love the holidays! October through December are honestly my favorite three months, regardless of the lack of sunlight and tans.

Growing up, I used to be like this when Christmas rolled around, even without the extra month of preparation.

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My brother and I were constantly excited, even if we just got our gifts for mom and dad a few days before the 24th. It didn’t matter how long the Christmas movies had been playing or when we put the tree up, the excitement just came naturally. As the years went by, my young mind started to realize how quickly events came and went; at not one, not two, but three weddings of various cousins, I bawled as we left because I just couldn’t believe that it was done already. My parents always thought I was just tired or wanted to stay longer at the parties, but I was genuinely just sad that it was finished. The celebration that we had spent months anticipating had come and gone, and to me it felt like it had only been a few minutes. When I started to realize how quickly the holidays passed by, I decided that I would try to make them last longer. The year I realized this, I was sitting by my grandma’s Christmas tree after opening the coolest sock monkey ever, and I just couldn’t believe that it was over. Where did Christmas go? How was it over? I really didn’t understand how this day I had been waiting for was gone.

As I’ve grown older, I have also learned that Christmas isn’t about the awesome sock monkeys, but its more in the chance to celebrate with all of my family and friends. When we moved south during my freshman year of high school, I understood this even more, and also found myself grateful for the spread of Christmas celebrations we had to attend. Having a large family has its benefits, even if my dad complained during every 4 or 6 hour trip north. The opportunity to travel for the holidays makes the experience much longer. And while ten-year old Rachael would have absolutely loved this, 22-year old Rachael is getting just a little bit swamped. I’m looking a little more like this lately…

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I don’t mean the drop-down drunk part, although I have been keeping the beer and wine close as we hit up each Christmas celebration, but I mean the part of me who is completely exhausted and wishing that Christmas was a little easier. I’m realizing now that I can’t have both things that I want; a long Christmas without twenty-something stops in between Thanksgiving and New Years. It’s an exaggeration, I know, but it makes sense to others with large, spread out families. I love getting to see everyone, and when it’s over, I still get sad, but I don’t cry like I used to. I curl up in bed, and watch a Christmas movie in the privacy of my own place. I think as I grow older, I’m realizing that while these countless trips are irritating, there is going to be a day very soon where not all of these trips will be able to happen. It’s difficult to stay cheery when you are tired of traveling, but its even harder to take these precious moments for granted. Instead of being a Grinch, I need to find a happy medium. I need to find balance so that I can still enjoy the celebration to the fullest without bursting at the seams.

Until then, I’ll need to find a sippy cup for my Moscato…

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