By BARBARA ESTEVES-MOORE
While putting up our Christmas decorations this year we found an old sign that sticks to the window. It resembles a stop sign and reads, “Santa Stop Here.”
On the back was a hand-written list my daughter wrote in 2006. At five, her list included an Easy Bake Oven, horses, a robe and clothes.
When I showed her the sign, she read it and stuck it in her bedroom window with the words, “Santa Stop Here,” facing outside. So, I wondered, do children still love all things Christmas even when they become teens? In a very informal and unscientific survey, I found out they do. In fact, their responses stopped me in my busy tracks.
I wondered what Christmas traditions from their early childhood teenagers still love? They told me they loved everything from hiding the pickle in the Christmas tree to listening to Celine Dion while decorating the tree. It kind of made me feel like Santa Claus in that claymation special “The Year Without a Santa Claus” when he goes looking for children who still believe.
“We make cookies for Santa and put out sugar-covered strawberries for the reindeer,” one teen told me.
“We always go look at the crazy decked out house in Stone Meade and we open one present on Christmas Eve,” another said.
“We always make this good white chocolate mix called White Trash and put up the Christmas tree while listening to Christmas music.”
“We always open one gift Christmas Eve and eat Chinese food like they do in ‘A Christmas Story’ because that’s my family’s favorite movie,” one shared.
Another teen said she just loved baking with her family while a friend’s son said he loved all the Christmas traditions his family has had since he was young. And yet another teen especially likes the French Toast her family eats every Christmas morning. My daughter, who was my research assistant for this project, said she loves watching Christmas movies and leaving cookies out for Santa.
When I asked the teens if they still get excited about Christmas, I got yes answers across the board. Well one was a little less enthusiastic but it’s a group of teens, what do you expect?
“Absolutely,” one said. “Heck yeah,” another one replied.
One said she still gets excited about Christmas, “but in a different way. …I feel like it’s more of getting people something that means more and is more personal … and it’s also more of a time of love and not about presents and stuff.”
That sentiment was echoed by other teens. They said the meaning of Christmas changes for them as get older. It is a break from school and the regular routine but also a time to be with family.
“I’m more focused on the real meaning of Christmas,” one said. “I also sing in a few choirs, and I love connecting with the music and the spiritual aspect of it all.”
“Now I see it as a time to be with my family and enjoy time with them until college,” another said.
Several said it was a time of rest and a break from stress.
“It’s different than when I was younger,” one said. “It’s more about just enjoying my family and cherishing time with them … also leaving school.”
“Everyone is in a better mood,” one teen said. “The holidays tend to bring out the best in people. And now that I’m older, Christmas is a time to do something nice for others and spread a little joy.”
But one thing that doesn’t seem to change much is the list. Teens still wish for items even if they are not waiting in line to see Santa. Replacing the Easy Bake Ovens and horses are things like new phones, Vans, Nintendo Switch, a light saber, throwing knives, a saddle (she already has the horse!), curtains for a room make-over, clothes, more clothes, more phones, and a car, of course.
So just when you thought you knew teenagers, they surprise you again.
Barbara Esteves-Moore is a journalist, editor and the owner of Two Roads Communications and an editor for Home Page Media. She has been married for 20 years and is the mother of an active, opinionated and very lively 16-year-old. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.