Can you remember what it was like? Planning out your Christmas list for Santa. Looking through the catalogs and adding every toy that looked even remotely interesting to your list. Dreaming about all of the different presents you might wake up to on Christmas morning. Reminding your parents everyday how much you really wanted that one specific present. Looking around with wide eyes at all of the giant Christmas trees and decorations in the mall.
The excitement of Christmas started way before December 1st and lasted even after Christmas morning. It was a truly magical time as a kid.
Do you remember the last time you felt that excitement? At the risk of sounding like a Scrooge, I don’t. I do know it’s been awhile since I experienced that kind of prolonged anticipation for Christmas. Not to say I don’t still love Christmas, and everything it brings with it, but it’s just different now. Somehow, a little less magical.
But how, and when, did Christmas lose it’s magic? I never intended for it to. It wasn’t like I made a special effort to be less excited about the holidays. It just…kind of…happened.
As I sat in my room last week, studying for finals, it took me a minute for the reality to set in that Christmas was only two weeks away. Two weeks. As a kid, we would have been counting down the days starting in November. And somehow, here I was on December 11th, blissfully unaware that I only had 14 days left until Christmas. And for a second, I was pretty upset about it.
I started missing the excitement that used to consume me long before Christmas morning. I longed for that anticipation and joy that began the moment my eyes saw the first hint of Christmas in stores. I wanted the magic back.
As I sat there thinking about how long it had been since I counted down the days to Christmas, waited in anticipation for Christmas morning, and spent Christmas Eve lying awake, filled with excitement, I realized this same thing happens with almost every aspect of our lives.
The first few days, weeks, or months at a new job always seem to be incredibly fulfilling. Somehow, everything about our new job is sooooo much better than our old job. But 6, 12, 18 months in, most people are right back where they started, dreading work and finding a host of things they don’t like about their “new” job. But what happened? Just last year everything about this job was an answered prayer.
You finally move into your dream home, and you couldn’t be any happier. The closets are huge. The kitchen is updated. The exterior is beautiful. It’s everything you thought you ever wanted. And then. Plumbing issues arise. The foundation shows cracks. The layout is much less functional than you imagined. And the perfection of the new house fades away. You’re no longer as excited to come home to this house every night.
And what about relationships? In the beginning, it’s all butterflies and happiness. The way you smile when you see their name on your phone or spend all day thinking about getting to see them later that night. Everything seems so smooth in the beginning. But the longer you’re together, the more “ordinary” things become. Seeing their name light up your phone is routine. Going home to them at night isn’t something you spend all day thinking about. And you start to notice the flaws that didn’t seem to exist in the beginning.
Here’s a good one. Ladies, when’s the last time you looked down at your hand and had your heart skip a beat when you noticed your wedding ring? Being a senior in college, I’ve hit the stage where many of my friends are getting engaged. And with every Starbucks latte, scenic drive, and manicure, they’re looking for any and every opportunity to get their ring in the picture and post it somewhere. You can see the smile that lights up their face when they look down and notice it on their finger, as if they had forgotten they were wearing one. When’s the last time you were that excited to see that special ring on your finger? For some, I would venture to say it’s been awhile. Because that’s how life works.
As we get older, more “important” things begin to get in the way of the simple pleasures. Instead of counting down the days to Christmas, we count how many more days we have to spend studying. Or how pressing it is that we begin Christmas shopping. Instead of being excited that we have a job, we think about all of the things we would rather be doing with that time. Instead of remembering all the reasons we fell in love with that dream house, we notice all of the things we wish we could change about it. And instead of getting giddy over seeing their name on your phone or that ring on your finger, you begin to treat it as ordinary.
And maybe that’s the scariest part of growing older. Seeing ourselves lose that childlike love and admiration for the ordinary things. And realizing that finding the “magic” in things now takes effort, when years ago, it came effortlessly. It’s a scary thing, really. Thinking that one day we could go through life without experiencing any magic at all. I don’t want that life. I don’t want the days to be ordinary and life to be plain.
So, the next time you see a Christmas tree, remember all the excitement you felt as a child waiting for Christmas morning. Feel that again. When you go to work, remember the blessing this new job was. When you drive up to your house, remember all the things that made you fall in love with it. And when you see that ring on your finger, remember the joy you felt the day you wore it for the first time.
Don’t let life just pass you by. Experience the magic again. Even if you have to fight for it.