There’s a joke that’s been going around that the older we get, the lower our standards for Christmas become.Jillian Ramos

“I want a dollhouse and an electric train track” becomes “I’d like a sense of purpose and maybe some socks would be nice.” While I’ve found this true in my own life, I’ve also noticed that my enthusiasm for the Christmas season has greatly decreased.

I used to love this season. Once December hit, every day was just more time to wait before Christmas finally came. I loved Christmas carols, gift exchanges and the various musical events I joined. I felt those warm Christmastime feelings all December long, and after New Year’s, I’d find myself hoping for Christmas again.

Maybe I’m just showing Scrooge-like symptoms at a young age, but I’m not looking forward to Christmas this year. Carols grate against my ears. The constant red and green is an eyesore. Lights that were pretty the first day they went up become glaring the next. For once in my life, I don’t have any Christmas spirit.

There are several possible reasons for this. It might be familiarity breeding contempt. Maybe I’m just getting older. The commercialism surrounding this season annoys everyone to some degree. Maybe being so busy with the Christmas concert my choir’s holding in a few days is mentally exhausting me; after all, no matter how snazzy the song arrangements are, they’re still Christmas carols.

Or maybe it’s me.

One of my favorite parts of preparing for Christmas used to be trying to find gifts for all of my friends and family. This year, I have barely anyone to receive them. Before, I was full of appreciation for the people around me, and Christmas presents were just a reflection of that love overflowing. Now, as a result of heavily guarding myself emotionally, I don’t have that kind of spirit anymore. I’ve run empty.

Honestly, all I really want for Christmas is to feel full again. Maybe I was looking for that fulfillment in the wrong places. People at my school and church would say to find it in Jesus, and with my head, I can agree. My heart, however, feels like a piece of ice. No empty Christmas clichè can thaw it. No exquisite Nativity set can fill me up again.

I know that a lot of us are wanting to feel full again. It’s a hunger that lasts all year, but it’s hard not to feel it near Christmastime. Those thoughts are hard to ignore when the world’s pushing artificial joy at us. Despite all this, maybe genuine joy is possible.

My choir recently visited the retirement center across the street from our current campus. I was already reciting the same performance disciplines in my head on the way there: “Force a smile. Conceal, don’t feel.”

This time, however, I didn’t need to think any of those things. The moment we walked into the room, I could feel the ecstatic anticipation of the residents. It was a different kind of pressure to do well, a pressure that didn’t stifle. What really got me, though, was one woman in the front of the audience who beamed as we sang.

We were actually giving these people something worthwhile. And, for a moment, I didn’t feel so empty.

I still don’t have answers, and unless you’re visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve, I don’t think there’s any kind of quick fix to this. A person can become too used to the cold that emptiness offers.

The only thing I have from this experience to share some common sense: When things are empty, they’re in the best position to be filled up again.

Jillian Ramos is a senior at Westside Christian High School, and she writes a monthly column for the Review. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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