As a child, Christmas is a truly magical time, but as you grow up and the magic starts to wear off, not everyone loses the excitement of Christmas. It’s common to expect that as soon as you’re no longer a child, you shouldn’t get overly excited over nay it. Too old for advent calendars, too old for Christmas pyjamas, too old for stockings or gaudy decorations. The look on the faces of older relatives every year reminds me that I’m giving into a childlike mirth that I am expected to have forgotten by now. But why this expectation? Why, suddenly, are you too grown up for all of it?
Christmas is one the most nostalgic times on the year.
The music, the weather, smells of food and scented candles; putting up decorations, baking, are all strong oral factory triggers. The Christmas seasons evokes strong childhood memories, and several studies lean towards the opinion that nostalgia plays a key role in improves your mood and heightening positive emotions. Meaning that the time of year that makes so many people stressed and overwhelmed, is also one the best ways of reducing stress.
Why not look for the small victories? Against the exhaustion of cooking, family and money, take a little joy from wearing Christmas slippers. Watch the same films you’ve watched since you were ten, hang up the same ornaments, wear your ridiculous hats and jumpers. Because anything that could fill you up with the same happiness and excitement you had as a child can hardly be a bad thing.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “we don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.’
The psychological benefits of giving into your childish nature are extensive. Stress relief, lowering blood pressure, endorphin release and increasing energy levels are just a few. Being more childlike in your everyday life is a strongly supported idea by many psychologists, but Christmas is surely a good place to start, odds are there will be children running around anyway with whom you can join in.
Christmas is, ultimately, a celebration of family…
And our connection with other people, whether family by blood or by choice, is a fundamental human necessity. We need emotional, happy relationships with other people and at Christmas, these are a focal point of tradition. Presents are expected, but they don’t have to be. Make something, go somewhere, spend a day with a person you care about under the lights and listing to the music. Drink eggnog if you want, drink hot chocolate by the bucketful.
The expectation of people to suddenly grow up and abandoned childhood memories and traditions in the sake of appearing grown up for society’s sake, is an unnecessary pressure on adults of all ages. There is nothing wrong with putting up lights, even in November. Taking away the simple pleasures of others that supply happiness is a sad business. Celebrations are meant to be fun, and nobody has more fun than children at Christmas. If the instinct is there to watch the Grinch and eat too much chocolate and stubbornly hang up ornaments older than you is there; embrace it.
In the words of Roald Dahl, ‘a little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.’
Be wise, be enthusiastic about little wonders, and have a merry Christmas.