The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As a natural result of growing up, some things become less fun than they used to be. Getting sick no longer means watching TV all day and your mom letting you drink Kool Aid, it means making up a metric ton of tests and projects. Going to school no longer involves coloring for hours and spending the majority of the day on a playground with your friends. Easter goes to the wayside as the whole Easter Bunny ruse falls through. (But really, why do we have to grow out of the egg hunt tradition? Scavenger hunts and candy are still awesome without the supernatural pretense.) Even your hobbies become slightly corrupted as they stop telling you to have fun and start telling you to go win, go be the best.

But the one facet of my childhood that has almost improved with age is Christmas and the holiday season. Every other holiday has completely transformed itself with time, yet Christmas has only improved upon its core. Instead of just decorating Christmas cookies, I can bake them myself using whatever recipe I want. When I was younger, I used to decorate the half of the tree I could reach, and then my parents would move the ornaments while I was asleep; now, I can reach the whole tree, put the star on top myself, and use some semblance of a color scheme. Some things, obviously, do change. I used to get up painfully early on Christmas morning because I was too excited to sleep; I'm sure my parents are grateful that I will not be waking them up at four a.m. this year. And I'm finding Christmas this year to be almost just as much about appreciating my friends as my family. Yet the heart of the holiday is entirely untainted.

I'm not alone in my timeless love for Christmas, the holidays and all things red and green. Over 92 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, and our culture reflects it. Everyone from The Jackson Five to Kelly Clarkson has released some form of holiday album, and no night of satellite television would be complete without a myriad of Christmas specials based off of everything from the classic tale of Rudolph to Shrek. Nearly every self-respecting business in America has at least thrown up a wreath or two, and it seems like every neighborhood has that one street that engages in a Deck the Halls-esque competition for the most lavishly fluorescent house possible (I wouldn't be surprised if some of the homes could be seen from space). But what is it about Christmas that captures the hearts of so many Americans, as well as families around the world? Obviously there's the religious tradition behind the holiday, but according to a study by Pew Research Center, almost one third of survey participants consider Christmas to be more of a cultural celebration.

Personally, I think that Christmas is so adored because it represents a shameless throwback to childhood. For just one month of glitter-infused glory, diets are put on hold, families come together, and even the stuffiest houses are adorned with the normally-gaudy reds, greens and golds of the season. For one month, ugly sweaters and Santa hats dominate the fashion scene, and young and old alike listen to the same cheesy songs, though most teenagers these days will be listening to the Justin Bieber versions. For just one month, both electricity bills and spirits skyrocket, and no one questions why you have a non-indigenous tree in the middle of your living room. For one month, it becomes socially acceptable to be as childish and unapologetically corny as possible. In an age of modernism, it's refreshing to bask in nonsensical whimsy and tradition. It's this timelessness, this classicism, this sense of diving headfirst back to our childhood, that makes true the wise words of Andy Williams: "It's the most wonderful time, of the year."