When my kids entered their tweens, I felt the holiday joy swirling down the drain. After spending most of the year in their rooms, I hoped the decorating, baking, and Christmas movie marathons would bring them downstairs, and they’d bask in the spirit with me.
They did not.
There were a few years when I tried to do everything in my power to bribe them into doing some of our old traditions they used to start talking about in July. We’d sponsor a family, go out, and do all the shopping together.
When my kids were younger, they wanted to do all the holiday things
When my kids were younger, they each had a favorite holiday cookie they couldn’t wait to bake, and they’d be so excited about the annual cookie swap we’d host. They loved helping me wrap and prepare gift baskets and jars of treats to hand out. And as soon as the holiday movies started, they’d all pile on the sofa with me and watch.
But as they got older, those days were swept out from under me, and I spent a lot of time alone listening to Christmas movies, baking, and decorating alone as I yelled up to their rooms, telling them what they were missing. I tried to put my best foot forward, but truth be told, I was incredibly sad and missed the younger years so much that it was physically painful.
If you are going through this stage with your kids, missing the younger years, and feeling sad that your kids don’t seem to care about the holidays at all, I have good news: It gets so much better, and Christmas with teens is even better than when they were small.
6 reasons Christmas with teens is better than when they were small
1. They can help
My son or daughter takes packages to the post office for me. They can pick something up at the store if I’m in the middle of baking or making a feast. They all know (a little too well) how to order things off the internet if we are out or I think of something I want to get someone while I’m already doing 5 other things.
My kids are excellent gift wrappers, know all the decoration boxes, and will carry them out of the basement for me. And if there’s something specific they know I’m looking for decoration-wise, while they are in Target or T.J. Maxx, they’ll send me pictures and see if I want them to pick it up.
2. They prefer fewer, more expensive gifts
Most teens prefer more expensive gifts than when they were younger — AirPods, a new phone, computer, video game, designer sneakers. Getting my teens a few gifts that cost more is so much easier than trying to surprise them or fill up all the floor space under the tree. They send me links, and I feel good knowing they are getting something they really, really want.
3. It’s not as stressful
The days of hiding the elf are gone. Trying to keep the magic of Santa alive was hard and I never kept my story straight. I can wrap gifts when they are home without worrying about them walking in on me. They know when they’ve had enough sugar, and there are no more post-sweet meltdowns or tantrums about a sibling getting more gifts.
If we have company, they can stay as long as they want because I don’t have to wrestle to get three kids to bed, and there are no longer human alarm clocks in my home if I want to sleep in.
4. You can sit around the table for hours and talk about past holidays.
This is one of my favorite parts. My kids and I have long talks at the dinner table this time of year about how we used to visit Santa when they were younger. They remember the year I made the elf poop in the bathroom (I used raisins) and talked about how they used to pile in one room on Christmas Eve and try to stay up all night. Those days, I put a lot of work into making things magical. It paid off then, but it’s paying off even more now. And the best part is I’m not awake at 2 am, remembering I forgot to move the Elf.
5. They appreciate you and see all you’ve done over the years.
Maybe they don’t say much about it, and maybe they don’t appreciate me as much as they should, but they are at the age when they are aware of all I’ve done over the holidays to make it nice for everyone. They know how much things cost and how much time it takes to make all the baked goods and decorate. You can tell they are thankful and realize the holidays take a lot out of mom.
6. You bond in a completely different way than you did when they were young
Instead of doing everything for my teens over the holidays, we celebrate together. They want to participate more than they did a few years ago, and their participation actually helps. Yes, the days of them wanting to help me make cut-out cookies and wrapping gifts when they were little were fun, but it was also exhausting, my back would hurt, and I never relaxed and enjoyed the season as I do now.
To me, the holidays with teens are better than when they were younger. So, if your kids don’t seem to care about this time of year and you are sad, hang on for a few years. It’s going to get so much better.
More Great Reading: