The Christmas Lights.
The 90s: Dad hung the lights from a wobbly ladder, mom yelled at him from the ground, and my brother and I gleefully ran around the roof occasionally slipping on a loose shingle or two, chasing each other with the staple gun. And more than likely we weren’t wearing coats. We never wore coats.
By the time the sun would set we’d all been outside untangling lights and trying to find the broken lights for nearly four hours so when my mom would yell at my dad to “Straighten the lights out! The second line on the left is not straight!” Dad would reach too far over, lazily trying to move the ladder while still on it, as he muttered curse words under his breath, nearly falling to death with each movement. We all knew it was just a matter of time before he’d say forget it and crawl inside through the second floor window to go retreat into the basement for the rest of the night.
The job wasn’t finished until someone was bleeding or none of us were speaking to each other anymore. Usually both.
Now: I was walking Harlow last night and passed several homes where teams of nine or ten “professional lighting people” were decorating an entire house like soldiers running a mission. In a matter of minutes the rod iron fences were wrapped with garland, wreaths were hung in every window, and a perfect strand of lights lit ever corner.
I didn’t see coatless children running on the roof anywhere. No tears, no blood, no holiday fun.
The Christmas Card Photo.
The 90s: Mom would wrangle up my sister, brother, and I and quickly try to find three outfits we all had that were similar, and that were also clean. She also had to make sure our faces, noses, and teeth were clean. Not an easy task. We would then have to pose in front of the Christmas tree while she took at least 45 photos hoping and praying for a good one while we whined and shouted things like, “Jordan is breathing on me!” “Jade’s touching me!” “Taylor isn’t looking!” “The dog just walked in front.” “Jordan farted.” By the end we all needed a drink.
Mom would run the film to Walgreens, pay a little extra money for one hour photo, and then we’d all anxiously look through the copies. Anger and regret always immediately followed as we realized we’d have to do another Christmas photo shoot because even out of 45 images, there wasn’t a single good one.
Now: Mom doesn’t even have to worry about a Christmas Card Photo shoot. She can just choose from the hundreds of photos she’s already edited and posted on Instagram in the past month. Not good enough? No problem. Plop the kids down in their monogrammed Pottery Barn chairs and tell them to take a couple selfies. They know how to make themselves look good by now.
If all else fails mom can just get into Photoshop or Shutterfly and make any terrible photo look like a masterpiece. Ugly kids? Who cares? We’ve got editing tools for that now. Let’s just say old Dead-Toothed Taylor from the early 90s would have looked a lot better in photos if she could have had a few Instagram filters to help her out. The Wolfe’s family and friends would have no longer looked at their Christmas card every year and thought, “Bless that youngest child’s heart.”
The School Christmas Treats.
The 90s: Want to get fancy and bring Christmas treats to school? Great, go buy some candy canes. Want to get really fancy? Buy the rainbow colored candy canes.
Now: If mom doesn’t send her child to school with a sugar cookie that actually looks like an elf wearing ice skates making toys for abandoned children inside of a snow globe that plays Where Are You Christmas when you take a bite, she is doomed. Because every other child in class will have a similar cookie, or something better.
I pinned something yesterday that said “50 Cute Holiday Treat Ideas” on Pinterest. Fifty. Why do we need fifty options when it comes to holiday treats? When I actually looked at the recipes I started to cry realizing I’ll never be good enough for the child I don’t have. I don’t know how to turn a marshmallow into a Frosty hat. And I’m not sure I want to know.
Christmas Tree Decor.
The 90s: A tree decoration had to be at least one of two things to get on our tree when I was little: edible(ish) or covered in glue. Preferably both. And they had to be able to withstand a good licking. Not like a beating, I mean I would actually lick them. I loved to lick anything that looked like it was food or shiny or covered in glitter. I was a gross kid. Thus all of our tree ornaments were gross, as well.
Now: Tree ornaments are not meant to be touched, just admired. You break it, you buy it. And if your tree doesn’t look like it belongs on the show floor of Macys then just get out. You need to have a stunningly decorated Christmas tree or else you won’t get any likes on it when you post it to Facebook and Instagram. Christmas trees should be liked by strangers, not loved by children. Everyone knows that.
The Christmas Pageant Clothes.
The 90s: I liked my Christmas tights saggy, baggy and covered with snags. If I didn’t have rolls of extra tight rippling at my knees, ankles, and hanging loosely below my crotch, I wouldn’t wear them. And I only felt at home wearing dresses that had at least some evidence of what I’d eaten the last time they were worn. It was like wearing a memory.
Now: I envy the wardrobe of most children I see on social media today. Not only are their coats prettier than mine, but so are their boots, hats, and winter accessories. I’m quite sure their lives are too.
Elf On The Shelf.
The 90s: Who?
You mean my drunk uncle that kinda looks like an elf who happens to be passed out under a shelf in the pantry? That “elf?”
Now: ELF ON EVERY SHELF OR CHRISTMAS IS OVER.
Oh holidays, I love you so.