For Ex-Christmas Fans

It’s here again.

I don’t want to be a Grinch and spoil the holiday for those that enjoy it, so if you’re someone that feels the need to spread Christmas cheer, this post probably isn’t going to be too appealing. This is more for those that are looking forward to the holiday season ending.

Sigh. What happened, Christmas? We loved each other once.

It used to be my favorite holiday. And I mean, come on: compared to dressing up and getting candy on Halloween, or shoving my mouth with Peeps and more candy on Easter, Christmas had presents. Like, non-consumable, things-I-actually-wanted-but-couldn’t-get-because-I-was-a-kid presents. Action figures. VHS tapes. Books. Video games. Things I saw in stores, during commercials, advertised in magazines, things I’d seen all year, things I’d developed a hope of receiving at the end of the year. I don’t want to say I was deprived of fun things as a kid, but unless it was a Happy Meal toy, the only time I was going to get anything a kid would actually want was on my birthday or Christmas.

So yeah. Christmas. Kind of a big deal when I was a kid.

And I don’t want to sound cheesy, but family was a pretty big part of Christmas, too. We invited my grandparents and cousins over every Christmas Eve. There was always a genuine rush of excitement upon seeing them, and the bags of presents they brought was a pretty nice touch, too. Christmas music played all day and night, and my dad would make a fantastic dinner. And as soon as it was over, either he or my grandfather would say “Who wants to open presents!?” We would all rush over to the tree and start opening the gifts from our grandparents, uncles, and aunts (gifts from parents would be spared until Christmas Day). And afterward, we would watch A Christmas Story, a favorite of my dad’s and just as much an annual tradition as everything else.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, my parents and grandparents would hype all of us up over Santa coming that night. And it was like, “Whoa. You’re telling me, that mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa bought all of these presents for us kids, and now tomorrow there’s going to be another person with even more presents?”

We were kings, really. And the adults were bringing their yearly offerings.

On Christmas day, my sister and I would sneak downstairs and dig into our stockings before our parents were up. And when they finally got up, after like, a million hours, we tore into the rest of our gifts. The floor would literally form a whole new layer over the carpet as we sorted through our new stuff. I always felt some strange sense of bonding with her as we compared what we received. We would play with them all day, and sometimes my best friend from next door would come by and show what he got for Christmas, too.

When I became a teenager, things started to become a little different, although Christmas still remained my favorite holiday. I was really into anime during high school, so now when my parents asked what I wanted for Christmas, it was always awkward because I had to write out the names of TV shows or soundtracks because how the hell was an adult supposed to remember some obscure Japanese title they’ve never heard of?

At the time, I really didn’t think I minded; I was a teenager, I didn’t want my parents all up in my business about what I liked, I wanted my own space to explore interests on my own. But thinking back on it now, I think part of the magic Christmas had during childhood was that my parents did know everything I was into. They knew what I liked, and they knew how excited I would be to get my gifts.

But you know what? That was okay. I had friends that knew how much I would appreciate what I got. Friends that would be excited for me and who I would be excited for as well. Where in childhood Christmas was all about receiving, my adolescent years presented me with the fulfilling sensation of searching for presents to buy for other people. I don’t really know what changed, but I found myself looking forward to seriously thinking about what I was going to buy for people. Exchanging presents with friends was always so… great, to be blunt. I can’t really explain why. Maybe it was because my friends didn’t all live in town, and the fact that they were thinking about me made me feel like I was special or something.

And god, I’m so embarrassed to admit this now, but back then, I loved the Christmas hype most of all. I loved seeing everything decorated. I even started hanging Christmas lights around my room the day after Thanksgiving. I loved hearing Christmas music on the radio and in stores. I loved the Christmas specials.

The Christmas specials! Look, the Grinch, Peanuts, Rudolph and all them… yeah, okay. Classics or whatever. But for me, a big Nickeloden fan, Christmas specials stepped up their game my freshman year of high school. Nickelodeon was doing this series of commercials that had stop motion clay figures of all their Nicktoons singing Christmas songs, and it seemed like every show got its own holiday special that year. The Fairly Oddparents had a surprisingly good Christmas episode that was honestly a little heart warming. Invader Zim did its own twisted take on Christmas, and considering what a huge fan me and another friend of mine were of the show, our excitement easily showed as the premiere grew closer.

But I think all fans of Nicktoons from that era can agree on the Christmas special that stood out most: the Spongebob Squarepants one. The way Spongebob kept saying “Christmas,” Mr. Krabs’ high-pitched lines when they sang the Christmas song, the super sad picture Squidward took of Spongebob when Santa didn’t show up, how they put the donkey over his face as he was mocking Spongebob for believing in Santa, and the ridiculous gestures Santa made when he eventually made an appearance – I think most people can agree the Spongebob Squarepants Christmas episode is one of the most nostalgic, memorable, and loved Christmas specials from the generation us 20-somethings grew up in. To this day, it’s probably the only Christmas special I’ll try going out of my way to see.

And judge me all you want, but when Squiward feels bad, dresses up as Santa, and says “I didn’t bring Christmas to Bikini Bottom, Spongebob. You did,” I’m sorry, but… tears. Tears all around.

But yeah, during my teenage years, and even my early college ones, I loved how hyped the world seemed about Christmas. It was really embarrassing how much I loved it. I even remember when I was 16, I was talking to a friend during art class about it. She hated how commercialized Christmas was, and I argued I loved it because it hypes the world up and actually seems to make people nicer to each other (oh, 16-year-old me… enjoy that naivety).

Sometime during college, though… I don’t know, Christmas. You just started becoming something else.

Like clockwork, the end of every fall semester put an enormous strain on me because of final exams, papers, and projects. I didn’t even have time to think about Christmas until the semester was over. And even then, I began feeling more and more worn out and unable to get excited about the holiday as each year passed. It started becoming something that came and went, rather than a day I couldn’t wait to count down to. I still liked it, but the magic started to run out around this time for me.

It also didn’t help that unfortunate circumstances seemed to start gathering around this time, either. I lost a couple of good friends rather suddenly pretty close to Christmas. One of my friends lost her husband in the middle of Christmas night. My grandmother died the week before Christmas. Things like started happening, and it’s hard to get back into the Christmas spirit when you have memories like these taking up residence in your head.

And it’s not like I’m the only one that feels like this. In fact, I’d say a good third of the people I know have some kind of nasty memory that gets in the way to enjoy Christmas. Depression becomes pretty common around this time of year, especially when the rest of the world seems so happy. And like other times of depression, it’s easy to feel like no one wants a party pooper around.

I think one of the reasons why Christmas became such a hated time of year for people with this problem is because they have this idea that Christmas is supposed to be a happy time. It’s supposed to be an end-of-the-year celebration, “the most wonderful time of the year,” as so many radios and store speakers insist on persuading us. And we feel awful for our own personal reasons, and the world becomes forced positivity being shoved down our throats. It’s incredibly suffocating, especially when we’re busy dealing with our own shit inside our heads. And we can’t be honest about how we don’t want any of this, because it ruins Christmas for those that like it.

It’s even harder when you used to like Christmas, too. You’re very aware of how much things have changed. And you’re very aware that things aren’t going to go back to being the same. You may want to really like Christmas, but… well, you just can’t. You can try, and you may even stop hating it for a while. Who knows? Maybe you can reach a decent ground with Christmas again. But until that time comes, it’s just so… awkward. And with the season being hyped the way it is, complete with its own obnoxious soundtrack everywhere you go, and beginning as early as September (no one’s thinking about Christmas in September, stores!), the entire last quarter of this year can be so difficult for a lot of people. And when no one else can understand that, Christmas becomes an extremely lonely time of year.

Loneliness is often difficult to talk about. Loneliness can make you feel vulnerable. You feel isolated. You feel empty. And again, when the whole world seems to be talking about how wonderful this time of year is, it makes you feel even worse. Even if there’s other people around, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not lonely. Loneliness is very much a state of mind. If you’re surrounded by other people that you don’t get along with or understand you, it’s easy to feel alone. And because Christmas promotes togetherness, it’s easy to feel even more lonesome during the holidays.

And then, of course, there’s family. I feel like many people who enjoy Christmas either still have a great support network of friends and family. I can see why they’d still enjoy the holidays. But for others, friends have come and gone. Family isn’t quite what it used to be. Drama develops and Christmas becomes more about accommodating your relatives’ issues while still trying to remain positive. And as we get older, it becomes more difficult to meet new people to include in our private lives. If there’s not a lot of people around to start with, looking forward to meeting with the ones who are still here, but aren’t on your good side, is very difficult.

Christmas. My friend. What happened? Surely all these dumb, grown-up emotions and problems can take a backseat, right? Wasn’t Christmas about the presents?

It’s weird, but all those memories of presents involved other people. My parents and grandparents giving them to us. Opening and comparing them with my sister and cousins. Shopping for the perfect gifts for friends. It’s easy to look forward to the presents most of all when you’re a kid, but whether you like it or not, you become more selfless as you grow up. The presents involve other people. Christmas involves other people. And if you don’t have the right people, Christmas becomes a chore. A state of mental health you deal with and try to move on from. A distant memory whose magic is long gone.

I don’t want to be a downer. I really don’t. I still make efforts to enjoy Christmas. I just made a Perler bead ornament of Link from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. That’s something. Right?

But I can’t deny it. I’m one of the people – one of the many, many people – who find Christmas depressing. This post is for those people, who get scrutinized for hating “the most wonderful time of the year.” I wanted to trying exploring the reasons why Christmas has lost much of its magic for me over the years, and I hope in the process some of you were able to understand why Christmas isn’t great for you, either.

But let’s not end on such a bum note. I still want to enjoy Christmas. Somewhere inside of you, I think you do, too. So just remember that much like depression, you don’t have to let the negative aspects of Christmas own you. You can try making new traditions. Try focusing on doing happy things for you, even if it’s not Christmas related. Try making this time of year something to look forward to, even if there’s been a lot to make that seem impossible.

Just keep trying. Christmas still wants to be your friend. It has flaws and doesn’t understand what happened between you either, so try making it understand. Teach it and yourself why things have gotten so distant, and then see if there’s any way you can make something work out.

Keep trying. Stay healthy. And good luck with the holidays. 🙂

 

Missing Places

You ever miss something that no one else does?

Back in October(?), shortly before I moved, I was taking my dog for a walk around a reservoir close to my house. I ran into my neighbor there, which usually happened anyway whenever I went there (I think he jogged there a lot). He was the father of my best friend from when we were kids. He lived next door and I used to be at his house every day, playing with my best friend. Honestly, as far as childhood memories go, I think I have more memories of his house than mine.

My best friend moved into that house a year after I moved into mine. I was 8 and he was 7. I don’t exactly remember how we met; we probably just saw each other playing in our yards and started playing together (we didn’t have fences at the time). I do remember him inviting me over to play Super Nintendo, though.

As I’ve mentioned in several previous posts, playing video games was a big thing for me and him while growing up. Naturally, I have a lot of memories of playing them, especially in his room and basement. Occasionally his dad would move the games into this larger spare room. He had a lot of cousins (I think his father alone had something like 7 or 8 siblings), so having the extra space was nice when everything wasn’t hooked up in the basement.

At one point, I started going to his house each morning before school. I don’t remember why; part of me thinks it was to avoid dealing with bullies at the bus stop, but I’m not sure. All I remember is eating cereal and watching cartoons with him, mostly Pokemon, when each morning was a new episode.

We drew a lot, too. Cartoon characters, video game characters, our own made up characters and comics, a lot of stuff, really. I don’t think we limited ourselves to any one room, but there was a guest room across the hall from his room that I remember spending the most time in. There was a set of double windows that let so much natural light in, and the room didn’t have a lot of stuff in it to start with, so there was plenty of space to stretch out on the floor and draw.

That same room had a computer in it. His family had the Internet before mine did, so I remember going online with him to look up stuff about Pokemon cards or pictures of things to print so we could draw from them. I think his house was the only place I listened to the magic that was dial-up.

I’ve been wondering if it’s strange to be thinking of his house so often lately. A lot of the memories I’ve been thinking about involve that house, and since I just moved, maybe it’s not too weird.

Anyway, so I ran into his dad at the reservoir. Turns out, he hasn’t been living there lately. He’s been trying to sell it and only came back once or twice a week to tidy up. It’s kind of weird how we moved into our houses around the same time and moved out of them around the same time, too.

But where I was sad, nostalgic, and almost even mourning moving out of the house and neighborhood I’d grown up in, my neighbor was telling me how he couldn’t wait to get rid of that house. And I don’t know why, but hearing him say that really depressed me. I wanted to tell him how much fun I had in that house, how important it was to my childhood, but I didn’t. Me and his son went our separate ways when I entered high school, and although we’re all on okay terms now, I thought it would have been inappropriate to share those thoughts.

But I couldn’t help but wonder what happened with that house after I stopped seeing his family on a regular basis. I don’t remember anyone in that house wanting to get out of it; I always assumed they were pretty content living there. But my childhood eyes could only see so much, I guess. Maybe my neighbor always hated it, maybe he didn’t. But it was just so depressing to know I wanted to walk around it one last time before I left, and he just wanted it off his hands.

And it’s not like the fact that someone else having completely different feelings towards a place than you do is a news flash to me or anything. It’s just… I don’t know. I don’t really know what my point here is. Just seeing him there at the reservoir, telling me how he couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there, knowing it was the last time I was going to see him, learning his son, my old best friend, moved shortly before and I would probably never see any of them ever again… I don’t know, it just made me miss his house even more. Because people will come and go, and I suppose places can do the same thing, too, but the house just seemed more permanent in that regard. Like, I know things will never ever go back the way they were, but at least I could always look at the house and be reminded of all the memories attached to it.

But his attitude towards it… I don’t know. It just really bummed me out, I guess. Maybe I was hoping those memories were important to another person, too.

Summer Memories

Summer is such a strange season for me. I have a lot of negative memories attached to it, so if you read my post about seasonal bad memories, you might think I would generally dread June through August. But strangely, no. And lately I’ve been wondering why.

To start, I guess I can compare summer to the other seasons. Winter used to be my favorite; I prefer cooler weather, so I guess that would make the most sense. Christmas used to be my favorite holiday, and I would always look forward to the holiday season. It felt like a big welcome party for the rest of winter. But after high school, winter’s slowly been annoying me a little more each year. The end of the fall semesters in college (i.e., the holiday season) was always filled with an enormous amount of work that never seemed to end. Getting into the Christmas spirit was difficult when I had to worry about getting multiple projects and term papers finished on time. Working retail drove the nail in the coffin, and now I generally dread Christmastime. And snow… well, I’ve already written about that.

I feel like I always look forward to spring, but end up being extremely disappointed by something before it ends. Most of the time it was heartbreak, but in high school I was always fairly sad at the end of the school year because I wouldn’t see a lot of people for a few months. Fall, in all honesty, should be my favorite season. It’s arguably the most colorful and the temperature’s at my most preferred level. But it’s often when I’m the most nostalgic, and that usually puts me in a melancholy mood. I also dealt with a lot of anxiety in regards to starting school again, and I wasn’t able to enjoy a single fall throughout college because of it.

Summer just seemed… there. Like I said, I have a lot of negative memories attached to summer, especially during high school. A lot of arguments with my best friend, a lot of fights with other friends, and a lot of unexplained frustration accompanied many of my summers. Maybe that’s why it just seemed there; I kind of just… blocked it out.

But I don’t know. Lately summer hasn’t bothered me as much. It’s strange, but I almost want to say I’ve started looking forward to it. I haven’t been thinking about those negative memories for a few years. In fact, I’ve been remembering a lot of positive memories about the summer.

I went to a lot of places with my family. We went to Six Flags Great Adventure at least once per summer. Our school would give us a summer reading sheet to fill out; if we read enough, we would get free tickets to Six Flags. So naturally, I remember a lot of trips to the library. They’d have people read to the kids, and after we’d search for books to borrow. I remember experiencing a lot of Goosebumps books this way, in particular Egg Monsters From Mars, The Beast From the East, and The Cuckoo Clock of Doom (although I only remember what the last one was about; I guess the covers are what I remember most).

I have some memories of visiting the boardwalk a lot, too. I’m sure we were on the beach at some point during those trips, but I remember the boardwalk more. I recall walking the shore streets to actually get there. My mom didn’t want to pay for parking, so we usually found an empty spot on the street several blocks away. Honestly, I don’t blame her. Parking at the beach can be a bitch, and how are we supposed to know how long we’re going to stay? Do we risk putting in too much money and lose it if we leave early? Or do we risk not putting in enough and getting a fine if we stay too long?

There were always a lot of flashing lights and sounds from all the boardwalk games. There were a ton of prizes I wanted to win. South Park became very popular in the late 90s, and I really liked how all the characters looked. Even though my parents wouldn’t let me watch it because I was too young, they let me win some merchandise. I have a couple of key chains with the boys on it, I think I had some wind-up toys or figures, and my mom even won me a fairly large Kenny doll. Yup, my mom won me a toy from a show she wouldn’t allow me to watch. Kind of weird, in retrospect. But I guess not as weird as the time when she won me a Red Dog doll from the Red Dog beer line.

Hmm. Perhaps mom wasn’t always the best influence. Anyway…

The arcades were also really fun. Aside from The Simpsons Arcade Game, I don’t remember playing a lot of specific video games at the boardwalk. I’m sure I tried out those jet ski simulation games, the racing games, and the on-rail shooters, but nothing in particular comes to mind. As much as I loved video games, they were strangely the least appealing part of the arcade for me. I don’t know why, but I remember being drawn to a lot of crane games instead. They always had prizes I desperately wanted but could never win (that talent belonged to my sister), but I would always invest my money in the “play until you win” games so I could at least walk away with something. Ski ball and air hockey were also a lot of fun. Hell, any game that gave me tickets was appealing in its own way. I remember wanting to save up enough so I could get myself something really cool, like a Game Boy or a bike. Sadly, I could never get that many tickets. Still, it was nice to dream.

Speaking of video games, summer was special. I usually just played with my best friend next door (different best friend than the ones mentioned above who I fought with) for most of the year, but during the summer our cousins visited more often and slept over a lot, so we played a lot of multiplayer games. I still clearly remember being in his room with his cousins playing Mario Party 2 and trying to figure out how to play Mario Golf. I also remember playing Pokemon Stadium a lot, as well as Pokemon Snap and Pokemon Puzzle League. It’s a little weird because I don’t remember playing these games at any other time except summer, but we played the main Game Boy ones throughout the entire year. We also played a lot of Super Smash Bros. For whatever reason, that always seemed to bring a group of people together.

I remember renting a lot of games and movies, too. There was a cool video store in a nearby shopping plaza that we often walked to. I rented a handful of games, but honestly, the only one that immediately sticks out was Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Again, I have a pretty clear mental image of me and my next door neighbor playing the game in his room when I slept over one weekend. We played the game all night while his room was decked out like a tent.

Did anyone else do that as a kid? I don’t know if I got the idea from somewhere or I started doing it on my own, but one summer I started tacking up bed sheets to the walls to make my room seem like a tent. I put comforters on the floor, took all the extra pillows and blankets in the house, and made a cool camp-like hideout in my room. My parents didn’t like it, though. It was fine for us kids to come in, but it wasn’t really built for adults. But my best friend and sister liked it so much, they started doing it too, and I guess we decided to transform our rooms every summer. It sounds silly, but… there was something oddly comforting about it.

Sleepovers always seemed to happen in the summer, and at the time it was really exciting. To be at someone else’s house at night and first thing in the morning seemed so bizarre, but it was foreign and fun. Like, “Hey! You brush your teeth before going to bed, too!” Or, “Wow! You eat cereal out of a bowl just like I do!” (No, I’m not sure why things like this fascinated me. I was a strange kid.) I don’t know why it was something that happened almost exclusively during summertime. I guess parents had their hands full, taking us to different places in an attempt to keep us out of trouble, and making us somebody else’s problem for a night was their own little vacation.

You know, freedom and opportunity seem to be recurring themes here. The anxiety of school was out, my parents took my sister and I to a lot of fun places we wouldn’t normally go, and I’d spend more time with friends. When school was let out for the summer, it felt like I could do anything I wanted because I essentially had no responsibilities. Obviously things are different now, as an adult. I still have to go to work, like any other part of the year. And I’m no longer a student, so that sense of freedom at the end of the school year doesn’t exist.

Or does it? I used to dread summer because of some bad memories associated with it, but for the past few years I keep recalling my positive childhood memories. Something about the summer just seems… well, laid-back. Like maybe that’s the whole point of summer. Hell, even adults seem a little lazier during summertime. They tend to relax and see other people more instead of whining about how they’re tired after working. I don’t really have a reason to, but the approach of summer still makes me feel this odd sense of freedom and possibility.

So I think, overall, I’m actually looking forward to the summer. I don’t have any major plans but… well, maybe that’s the point.

 

“Seasonal” Bad Memories

Sometimes, something happens to make you dread a certain time of year. Maybe a relative died in December, and now you can’t enjoy Christmas because you’re constantly reminded of her passing. You could have had a handful of crappy birthdays over the past few years, and now you don’t even want to celebrate it. The first sight of flowers blooming in the spring and the overall sensation of the warmer weather might make you recall a significantly bad breakup, and now you have to deal with the memories until the heat of summer arrives.

We’ve all got something like this that we’d like to forget about. I’ve had many over the years. Some I’ve gotten over, and some are going to take a little longer. And unfortunately, there’s probably going to be an event in the future that will make you dread another upcoming time.

Recovery is hard, we all know that. This is why it’s essential to take those steps to not letting our past conditioning make us hate present moments. Like it or not, Christmas, birthdays, and spring are going to come every year. The sooner you can let yourself enjoy them, the sooner you can move past those bad memories.

Keeping busy can help. The more you do, the better chance you’ll create new memories to overshadow the bad ones. Try adding new routines during these times. Make a point to see family or friends more regularly. Maybe have lunch or dinner with someone every week or two. Binge-watch a TV series you’ve been meaning to try out. Start a new book series. Take more walks. Take more drives. See if there are any local events you can attend. There’s a lot of ways to fill up time and distract yourself than you may think.

Of course, some memories just won’t leave you alone no matter how busy you keep yourself. If you still find your life plagued during these times, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to work on some self-help. Do some searches online for people that have had similar problems and see how they handled things (and if they’re still struggling, at least you can take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone). There’s a chance these memories could be connected to another, bigger problem such as a depressive or anxiety disorder. Take some time to research possible reasons for why you feel the way you do. In the long run, they’ll help you understand your past more clearly and let you handle it more maturely.

Whatever you do, try not to let life pass by when these memories become too crippling. It’s really easy to dwell on things, but much more satisfying to let yourself enjoy these times when your past is trying to hold you back. Good luck! 🙂

Snow

I think I hate snow. I don’t like hearing that we’re going to get heavy snow. I don’t like my commute time doubled. I don’t like looking at the muddy mess leftover after the initial snowfall. I don’t like slipping on my driveway. I don’t like when my car decides to lose control and I have to play a dangerous game of “get the car back in the lane it’s supposed to be in.” But now I’m looking outside my window, snow falling, slowly piling up on the fence, the patio, the grill, and everything else in the backyard, and I’m thinking perhaps I’m too hard on it, knowing well enough that tomorrow I’m going to hate it again.

Oh, snow. We have such a toxic relationship together. What happened?

I have pretty fond memories of snow from my childhood. My best friend lived next door, and every time it snowed (and if school was cancelled), we’d be out there playing in it. I know, I know. Pretty original story, right? But to be fair, most childhood memories of snow are about the same thing. We’d bundle up in a bunch of clothes and jackets and it was hard to move around in, and then we’d just go out and fling ourselves around the snow like dogs. It felt really nice, to have this weird snow thing just pepper our bodies throughout the day, and we wanted to enjoy it because who knew when it would come around again?

We’d pretend we were characters from video games or cartoons. Well, we did that a lot when we played outside anyway, but this time it was different because it was the snow version. And there was just something about how the snow blanketed the entire neighborhood that made it seem like we had a brand new, blank canvas to play on. We explored more, we stayed outside longer, and we played with the landscape. We tried making snowmen. Sometimes it worked out. It was a little rare to find snow that packed well enough. But we had fun doing it. Sometimes we tried making characters out of snow. That didn’t work out as well. We tried building igloos, too. Probably more than snowmen. I think we wanted to try igloos more because they stumped us. We knew what the looked like, but when we tried building them they just seemed like a structure that defied nature. Why did they keep collapsing??? Some of them just turned into snow forts or bunkers. Which was fine. I don’t know, there was something about being a kid and wanting to be cradled by snow. It sounds so claustrophobic now, but there was something comforting about being in a small area surrounded by snow.

And after a day of playing in the snow, we would either get called in by our mothers or decide we were too cold and wanted to warm up inside. And there would usually be hot chocolate. And it would be made with milk, because you can’t get away with making it with hot water on a snow day, you need to use hot milk for that special snow day hot chocolate flavor. Sometimes there’d be marshmallows. It didn’t really matter, though, because we were just in from the cold and had something really warm and delicious in our bellies. And then we’d play video games.

To be fair, we played video games a lot as kids. But I don’t know, there was something special about playing video games on a snow day. Snow days were like extra weekend days because we usually had all our homework done the night before, so we could just play all day with no real consequence. And for our school, if we got a snow day, the next day was most likely a snow day, too. At the very least, a delayed opening. So we didn’t have to worry about getting up early, we could just stay at each other’s houses for much longer than we normally could. We were only next door, after all. So we just played video games for the rest of the day, but the best part was we were still looking outside our windows the entire time, so it was like playing video games in the snow. And I don’t know, something about that was just kind of magical. Like, I’m trying to recall memories of snow and the strongest ones include staying inside playing video games, but for some reason I’m still remembering the snow. That kind of magical.

What happened, snow? Did I just become a cynical adult? Does the bad just outweigh the good? Back then we made such great memories. What do we have now? I drive 15 mph on unpaved back roads to get to work. Work doesn’t usually get snow days unless it’s really bad. Even when I was in college, snow days were rare. And I had a 50 mile commute, too. So even if it snowed so much I couldn’t open the front door, it didn’t matter because that didn’t necessarily mean it snowed that much at my school. It may not have even snowed at all. And college professors don’t tend to excuse absences for dangerous driving conditions.

I know, it sounds like whining. Maybe we tend to hate the snow after a while because we can’t play in it anymore. It doesn’t mean much if we still have to go to work. We need to get up earlier and clean our cars off and shovel our driveways and drive slower just to get there on time. The world doesn’t stop anymore when it snows. It’s far less beautiful that way. All snow does is create extra obstacles.

And yet…

There’s nothing like seeing the first snow of the season. Seeing a neighborhood blanketed by it, before anyone makes footprints or tire tracks, is stunning. Holding a handful of snow still feels cool, and good. Bring it close and you can see the light bounce off the tiny crystals. And call me a sappy romantic, but the idea of walking through a small flurry with someone you like makes me warmer than that delicious, made-with-milk hot chocolate ever did.

Oh, snow. You’re too much like an unhealthy relationship I just can’t seem to break away from.