As we got older, Santa stopped coming. Opening gifts gave way to unfolding cheques. We sat down to dinner, but nobody seemed very invested in the process.
I took it upon myself to make Christmas happen. By the time I was 13, I was putting up and decorating the tree by myself.
I guess it was. It was weird that, when alone in the house, I would sing myself Christmas carols. That I would lie awake in bed, listening for jingle bells and hooves on the rooftops, staring out my window hoping to see streaks of light... when I was 17.
I was a Mulder. I wanted to believe.
And in my adult life, determined to make my own found-family something different than what I'd had, I went a little overboard on the whole Christmas thing. I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted perfect white lights. Perfect decorations. Perfectly wrapped presents. Perfect music. A perfect turkey. Nothing in my actual life was perfect. I suppose I felt I had something to prove.
Luckily, I've calmed down.
In the last few years, I've stopped caring about how Christmas looks, and become more invested in how it feels. I've tossed the matching, mass-produced decorations I bought with my ex. Our tree is now decked out in vintage lights (that don't all work), and handmade or gifted ornaments that are nothing if not rag-tag. We add to our little (somewhat ugly and mismatched) decor collection every year. And we're happy. We're happy with our imperfect, beautiful little Christmas.
So today, in honour of that, I bring you images of holiday living rooms from around the world. Each one is imperfect. Each one is real. Each one is beautiful... in its own way.
For me, it's the painted, mismatched furniture that makes this room wonderful. It's both coordinated and uncoordinated at the same time.
Go deck the halls, people. And remember, kids don't care about Christmas being perfect. They care about it being magic.