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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Casteel

Hide in The Bushes

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

Feels like I've been hiding in the bushes for the holidays. Haven't had the time to post between the Hanukkah celebrations, Christmas celebrations, holiday party, pig roast for the preschool, trips to the Exploratorium and Breakfast of Champions.

The holidays were super fun. I think our son is approaching peak Christmas. We baked ornaments for the tree, put up lights and opened a reasonable amount of presents which meant he actually played with each of them for a long time. The big winner this year was his digital camera. He spent Christmas taking pictures of everyone opening their gifts.


If you don't know what Peak Christmas is, watch A Christmas Story. Peak christmas happens sometime between 3-9 years old. You're never that excited about Christmas again until you have a 3-9 year old yourself. I don't remember how old I was at my peak Christmas, but I know what I got an original NES!

Just like in the movie, I plotted all winter long about how to get my parents to buy me this. My friends all had one. I had subscribed to Nintendo Power and the kids at school all told me they would come to my house and arrest me if I didn't own a Nintendo because I was getting their then free magazine. So the stakes were really high. I used to sit in the electronics section of the Fedco (old department store for you yungins) and play the floor model, which let you try each game out for like a minute and see how far I could get in super mario bros. Nothing felt like opening up that box. I lost the entire next week to Nintendo and to a lesser extent the next 5 years. No present ever meant as much to me and probably ever will.

As you get older, you just can't get as excited about things. That's because you're measuring a single moment of pleasure or pain against decades of experience. The immediate happiness you can get out of something as simple as a present peaks around the ages of 3-9 because you lack that context. The reason it doesn't happen earlier is because you haven't developed your ability to dream and to desire with as much fervency until you get a little more developed. You learn to plan further and further ahead. You learn to see the signs of Christmas earlier and earlier. You start figuring out the rules and how to navigate them to get what you want. That journey makes the payoff so much better.

The flipside of growing past your peak Christmas is that, hopefully, all that experience puts everything into context. Your emotional roller coaster smooths out it's climbs and plummets and becomes a comfortable cruise. You've hit the highs so you don't need them as much. You've been through so many lows that you're better at avoiding them. You follow the course of the land like a river, flowing down the easiest path at a comfortable pace toward a beautiful sunset, if you do it right.

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