Being sent to the “kids table” during Thanksgiving used to feel like it was just another reminder of being too young for the adults, but now it’s something we tend to reminisce on with joy. The Halloween costumes we used to be so excited to put on as kids are now hanging in the back of our closets collecting dust, or maybe even donated to someone else. We used to count down the days to winter break, when holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa were celebrated with traditions and holiday cheer.
The fond memories we have of holidays as kids often transition into let-downs as we age and try our best to hold on to what they used to be when we were younger. Something that used to be so vivid and exciting as kids has lost its light as we get older, because as we age, our way of viewing these holidays does too.
For many kids, their family traditions are the best part of the holidays. Traditions are beliefs and customs that are passed down through generations, and they can be incredibly memorable for kids especially. From trick-or-treating to opening gifts on Christmas morning, these common traditions are a part of childhood that often spark good memories in us. However, when we get older these same traditions begin to slowly fade away into something different than how we remember them. While most kids get excited to go trick-or-treating on Halloween, teenagers and adults form new traditions for this holiday on their own. The age when it is common to stop the tradition of going house to house for candy is debatable, but according to a 2021 survey by YouGov, 16% of adults said that kids should stop trick-or-treating at 17 or 18 years old. 19% said they should stop at 15 or 16 years old.
The magic in many holiday traditions also goes away with age. For example, those with older siblings who move out or go away to college have to go through certain holidays alone. As kids, many are used to spending the holidays with all of their immediate family members, but our lives change as we grow up. College students may not always have time to travel home, or some get jobs that require them to work on certain holidays. Spending time with family is such a beloved part of all holiday traditions, and when we get older, this isn’t always as possible as it used to be.
Additionally, when we’re kids, we don’t always know what the holidays we celebrate mean, but we are happy to celebrate them regardless. When we get older and our brains develop, our perception of the holidays and its meaning changes. Many holidays have different backstories than what we know as kids, which can change the whole thing with age. Thanksgiving, for example, is a day to be grateful and give thanks to our loved ones, however, its backstory of violence between American colonists and Native Americans suggests a much more twisted premise. Knowing the backstory of the holiday does not necessarily change it, but it does change our perception of it. Thanksgiving will always be about giving back, however, getting older and being capable of understanding the other meanings of certain holidays can change the way we view them.
Though the holidays we joyfully celebrate as kids may feel different as we age and become teenagers and young adults, they are only as negative as we make it. Change is not only possible, but inevitable. As we grow up, our minds change along with traditions and perceptions. The way to cope with the changing holidays is to form new traditions and embrace the change that comes with aging.