The holidays are upon us - finally! Vacation, presents, food, rest, couldn't get any better right? - wrong.

So. Wrong.

We're not kids anymore. Long gone are the days when the holidays meant sparkly lights, floods of presents, sweets, and Christmas cheer. Let's face it, we've all succumbed to what the month of December has come to mean: potential bankruptcy, waist expansion, exhaustion, and quite a bit of time spent being pestered by nosy family members.

1. Family

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Then: A huge family dinner could only mean one thing: PRESENTS!!! You’d get flooded with presents from all the aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins. Everyone would stand around you and gush about how old you looked, how much you'd grown, and how good looking you'd become. They’d knock on wood to avoid the evil eye and exclaim “Smalla! Smalla!” whilst drowning you in hugs and kisses.

Now: Oh man! If only life could be so sweet. Although it’s still great to see your family and spend some quality time with them, large family dinners have become something to fear. First comes the greeting: the eternally plaguing question of one, two, or three kisses, or just a handshake cause you don’t really remember who this person is, and the awkwardness that pursues if there is a misunderstanding on these terms. Then, there’s always that one pesky aunt that’s going to point out your weight gain and suggest her latest fad diet to you. And let’s not forget the star athlete, PhD recipient, Harvard graduate, Google employee cousin who also happens to be friends with the president that you will eternally be shamefully compared to. Then there’s the cousin who needs to get married, and God forbid it’s you.

2. Christmas

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Then: Nothing compares to the joy of Christmas morning – or should I say sneaking into your sibling’s rooms and waking them up at 3:00 a.m. to open your presents. Writing that list to Santa – and actually getting what you asked for – was just about the best thing that could ever happen to you. But even aside from that, decorating the house with all the sparkly decorations and Christmas lights was a magical time. Let’s just say that seeing that first Christmas tree in November (at that over-eager store) made the world seem a little brighter.

Now: Santa’s on a budget folks, and Apple and their ever-changing iPhones are not his cup of tea. Long gone are the days of simply writing down what you wanted, and getting it. Now, persuasion has become an art. I miss Santa Claus, or should I say - SPOILER ALERT - the old guy wearing a fake white beard.

3. The Parties

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Then: The holiday parties your parents used to drag you to were B-O-R-I-N-G. A bunch of old people would sit around, mingle and drink a number of beverages that made them quite giddy. You’d be forced to sit around with all the other unfortunate kids and watch “The Lion King” – AGAIN.

Now: Dressing up as Santa’s little helper is fun now! Thanks mom, I’m still using that suit!

4. Vacation

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Then: It was great you guys. Almost a whole month off from school. No homework, no projects, no worries. You’d just sit around the house all day, play with your brand new Christmas toys, and eat all your mom’s amazing food. It was paradise.

Now: Let’s just say it's two days before Christmas, and here I am writing this post. If you live abroad, away from family, you'll be lucky to fly into town for a couple of days. Christmas just isn’t what it used to be – especially if you spend it working, alone.

5. Food

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Then: and Now: This is about the only thing that has remained constant throughout your life. The food that comes along with the holidays is glorious. From the scrumptious lunches and dinners, and even breakfasts, to the mouthwatering desserts, the Christmas cookies, cakes, hot chocolate – the works.

December is a great time for your stomach. But let’s not mention January, when all the calories take effect and you can’t fit into your favorite pair jeans. Ughhh.

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