When I was little, Christmas wasn’t exactly my favorite celebration of the year: there was food I thought tasted disgusting (red cabbage!), and somehow I remember feeling a sense of stress in the air. Then there was the fact that it was cold outside, and I couldn’t go out to play. Still, there was one huge upside to it all: Santa Claus was going to come and visit us with presents. I thought of Santa Claus as something like my favorite uncle, and I thought it was a shame he only showed up once a year.
My favorite celebration has always been m birthday: I was the center of attention, received presents, mum cooked my favorite dish and I felt very special all day. Special and older, which is a big thing when you’re a kid. A step up the ladder in the childhood hierarchy.
But as the years passed, my feelings started to change. Birthdays became less and less important, whereas the time i got to spend with my family around Christmas became the most cherished present of all.
These days, my birthday is not a particularly special day anymore. Most of all, the date just reminds me that I have grown older by another year. I guess at some point we all have to accept the fact that that’s how it goes. The world keeps spinning: you may still receive the odd present as a grown up, but more often than not birthdays turn out to be pretty regular days in your life. We don’t always have the time and opportunity to really celebrate anymore.
The ‘I’ becomes less and less important in life, whereas the ‘we’ grows in equal measure in your heart. Priorities shift, you learn to appreciate your family, and Christmas turns into one of the most natural occasions to get together.
That’s what the festive season is really all about. The magic is not in the material presents: what really makes this time special are the gifts money can’t buy: love and attention.
By now, it won’t surprise you to hear, Christmas has become my favorite holiday by far. While I did have to learn the hard lesson at some point that my favorite uncle does not in fact exist, I also had the privilege to understand with time how precious the things are that we often take for granted: family, and an opportunity to spend time together at Christmas. Even if it entails red cabbage.
photos: Fee Gloria Groenemeyer
location: Hotel Zoo