I’m 12 years old, and every adult I meet assumes that I’m really excited about Christmas — mostly, about getting presents. But I’m not. I used to love it when I was little, but now I don’t really need (or want) anything. We aren’t religious in my family, so the Bethlehem part seems kind of random. When my parents’ friends say, “I bet you’re counting the days till Christmas,” what should I do? Tell the truth and look like a freak, or just go along with it?
You’re not a freak, Max! You’re a slightly cool customer for 12, but I like that about you. You’re just being honest with your feelings. It’s great that you can tap into them. Now, whether to share them with others is a separate question.
Let’s start with Christmas. Aside from gifts and Baby Jesus, people find loads to like about it: the carols, the cookies, the decorations. And we evolve as we age: Last year, you liked the gifts; now, not so much. You may yet discover something new to appreciate. (It can be awesome to give presents to people we love. Crazy, right?) So, ride the wave; life is change. But keep track of that little boy inside you who once loved presents. It’s good to remember all the things we were.
Now, as for sharing your feelings with adults, I trust you to know the difference between a real conversation and small talk. If your mom’s friend asks about your Christmas excitement in the same way she says, “You’ve grown a foot since last week!” just smile and nod. (Waste of time.) But more thoughtful adults will be interested in your perspective. And you may feel better once you realize how common Christmas ambivalence is.
If Only We’d Stuck to Playing Dreidel
I recently began dating a good guy. He brought me to his family’s Hanukkah party, which was lovely. The problem: His father held court all night and didn’t help his wife at all. To make matters worse, he ordered her around — telling her which guests needed what and expecting her to take care of them, which she did. As a woman, this bothered me, but I didn’t say anything. I’d only met them once before. What can I say next time?
As tempted as I am to daddy-bash, these people are practically strangers to you. We know next to nothing of their dynamic. So, let’s skip takedowns of the father and focus on helping the mother and, more important, making sure that your new beau doesn’t see himself (possibly in his father’s image) as master of all he surveys.