As a kid, I took in Hallmark holiday specials and department store marketing hook, line, and sinker. This, along with Christmas cards and Christmas songs, led to some pretty serious Christmas anticipation.
The weird thing was that this anticipation didn't dissipate when December 25th finally rolled around. Instead, it gripped me tighter as I found myself waiting for the day to become Christmas.
Sure, I enjoyed the gifts I received. And playing board games with my family was a blast (in my family, the adults and children play together). The food was great, the house was full of laughter, and I was surrounded by people who cared about me.
Despite this, more often than not I crawled into bed Christmas evening feeling defeated. The Christmas I got never matched the Christmas I had looked forward to. It was never white. Since we had no fireplace, stockings were tacked to a wall, not hung on a mantel. The tree stood over only a modest array of typically practical gifts. No one in the family congregated around the piano we didn't have to spontaneously burst into song. The house never had that fuzzy, soft light glamour shot glow. And, if we left anything out for Santa, it would be empanadas!
As an adult, I have come to believe that marketing works to make folks strive to be something they aren't by convincing them that everybody else is. It came to me gradually, but I finally learned to wipe the idea of what Christmas should be off the lenses through which I view the world in order to see (and appreciate) what Christmas actually is (for me).
So yes, my family's Christmas looks nothing like you would ever see in a Christmas greeting card. Thank goodness I finally have the sense to be grateful for it.