How I Finally Learned to Appreciate Christmas Stephanie Barnes

Looking back, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t dreading the Christmas season. Even as a child, I was never excited about it and the idea of Santa Claus just seemed so foreign. Of course, we always had a tree, decorations and gifts but I knew they didn’t come from some old bearded guy. Plus, in Jamaica we don’t have fireplaces so if he really did exist, he’d probably have a difficult time getting in.

As I got older, my disdain only grew. As a teen, despite having a fairly idyllic childhood, I decided it was my calling to be an angry rebel without a cause and loving Christmas just didn’t go well with my black soul. The hardest part of my Grinch lifestyle was the pretending. I love my family dearly and they work hard to make everything just perfect – there was no way I could be openly Grinchly.

So, for 22 years I gritted my teeth and ‘enjoyed’ the celebrations. I did my very best not to throw things at the annoying caroling children and secretly avoided all the overzealous relatives at Christmas parties who just couldn’t resist commenting on my weight loss/gain, my singleness and the fact that I’m usually drunk before noon.

Fast forward to the Christmas of 2012, when I was the probably the biggest cynic as far as Christmas goes. But believe it or not, that was the year I gained a true appreciation for the day and it definitely gained new meaning. It had been a particularly sad year, filled with loss (but plenty of growth and for that I’ll be forever thankful). It was clear the Christmas spirit had evade us all and I couldn’t have been happier about that. There were no ridiculously tacky decorations and the general mood was very solemn but we were all together.

And as I sat there throwing things at my brother’s head and watching what felt like our thousandth holiday movie, I got it. I finally understood.

It was about the togetherness. I looked around and realized that the holiday season is for family. And that Christmas, despite the commercial stuff, brings everyone together. Family isn’t always easy. Family is overbearing and sometimes awkward but there is absolutely no escaping them. You move away, you start doing your own thing but you quickly realize there is something missing – your mother’s excellent baked chicken or the infectious laughter of your favorite cousin. Sure, we have our differences but I can honestly say, I’ve never been more excited for Christmas with my family.

Happy holidays, Gigglers!! And don’t forget to hold each other a little tighter this year. If you love them, don’t just tell them… show them! Let go of the drama and just appreciate the people around you. No matter how annoying they are because you’re together and that’s so much better than the alternative.

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