Missing Holiday Joy

Have you ever written something or said something, stepped back from it, and asked yourself, “Is that what I really think? Is that actually how I feel?”
I just did that with this post and I had to start over. I wrote all about my childfree holidays and how I get a twinge of something this time of year that makes me wonder if I would have more holiday joy if I had kids. Actually, that’s not what I wrote the first time. I wrote, “I can’t help but think I’m missing out on a piece of holiday joy.”
I am missing out on a piece of holiday joy. I think the choice to live childfree comes with sacrifices and that is evident to me this time of year. I know there is joy in having kids, especially around the holidays. It’s the time of year when their faces won’t stop glowing. I don’t want kids but that doesn’t mean I don’t like kids. That doesn’t mean I don’t remember being a kid. I remember the excitement of the holidays so well I can almost feel the pit in my stomach that comes with the anticipation of Christmas morning.
When I was young we lived in Virginia, hours away from our extended family. Every December my parents loaded up the car and we traveled to my grandparent’s house in Pittsburgh. I remember rolling up to their house and seeing it decked out with large, colorful Christmas lights, the tree standing bright and tall in front of the living room window. It was all I could do not to burst from excitement.
My brother and I shared the guest room with two twin beds and I always slept in the bed by the window. As part of their annual holiday décor, my grandparent’s hung red bell lights outside of each window in the front of the house. For years when I was little I was convinced the red glow I saw through the curtains was Rudolph’s nose. My older brother probably told me it was and then told me it wasn’t and I didn’t know what was true. So, I chose to believe.
That’s the joy I’m missing out on. A child in her room bursting with excitement convinced she is seeing Rudolph about to land on the roof. I don’t think the twinge I feel this time of year is a feeling of missing out on joy because I don’t have kids. I think it’s a feeling of sadness because I will never feel the same joy around Christmas that I felt when I was a kid. Life doesn’t work that way.
That time of my life is long over. I’ll never be back in that bed by the window trying to reconcile the truth about the glowing red bells with my little brain until I drift off to sleep. I know the truth now. Those red bells were just bells. The twinge of emotion I feel this time of year isn’t a feeling of regret that I’ve chosen a childfree life. It’s a feeling of missing the joy I had when I was living life as a child.



  1. Angie on December 7, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I really like this post and I absolutely get your point. Kids see the holidays with innocence and we have lost that as grown ups. However, I believe you don’t need to have your own kids in order to experience that joy again. There are many children in orphanages and shelter houses who would like some attention and love for Christmas and I’m sure you will receive so much joy and happiness from them. ?

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 7, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      That’s a great point Angie. I kept re-writing this post trying to figure out if I was feeling sad because I don’t have a child to share the holiday with. Nope, I was feeling sad because my childhood is long gone. 🙂 I like the idea of helping other kids make their own memories of holiday joy.

  2. ShootingStarsMag on December 7, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Great post! And I think you explained it really well. I don’t have kids – I do want them, but I don’t know when it will happen – but regardless of that, I think it’s common for people to miss the feeling of excitement and wonder that the holidays brought us AS kids.


  3. Anthea on December 8, 2017 at 12:05 am

    You have explained this so well. I remember Christmas as a kid and the magic of this time of year.
    I think as adults we have more to do when the festive season arrives and some of the simple pleasures of this time of year gets lost.
    Hubby and I have our own traditions for Christmas – completely different to how our Christmas was growing up and I prefer it this way. I have wonderful Christmas memories from when I was younger but I also remember a lot of rushing around, trying to see all family members and my Mother cooking for ages and not always being appreciated by everyone.
    I am also child-free by the way.

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 8, 2017 at 10:20 am

      I remember the rushing around too, especially as I got older. I had band concerts and choir concerts and church activities. It was a very busy season but back then I loved it. I’m sure if it was that busy for me now I would be exhausted! It’s great that you are creating your own traditions, I think that is so important. There is a great child-free community online and I’m proud to be part of it!

  4. Cara on December 8, 2017 at 3:18 am

    It’s interesting reading this post as an adult and then as a parent. I totally miss the joy I felt lying in bed until whatever appointed time we were allowed to finally get up Christmas morning. Part of me is excited to see the look of joy on my kids faces. But it also feels exhausting because you can’t fabricate that joy for your kids. It’s just something magical that happens in the small moments that feel big. And yet I will continue to try to make that joy, and maybe I try so hard as a way to feel that joy for myself again. (Certainly waking up at the crack of dawn is something that rarely feels magical any more!)

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 8, 2017 at 10:29 am

      It’s funny you mentioned the appointed time Cara! I remember – it was 8:00am which felt like forever. We weren’t allowed to leave our room but I would peak through the door and see my Grandma bustling around in the kitchen. Sometimes I would run out to the landing of the stairs and sneak a peak at the presents under the tree. You’re so right, we can’t fabricate joy, not for ourselves or our kids.

  5. katie on December 8, 2017 at 9:27 am

    ohhh yes. I want a family but don’t currently have a boyfriend, so my want is a little more painful than it is wistful. For me its about having traditions that I enjoy: favorite christmas cds, seeing lights, and spending time with loved ones.

  6. Akaleistar on December 8, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    This is such a beautiful and thought-provoking post!

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 8, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      Thank you!!

  7. Julieann on December 8, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I was thinking the other day I miss the huge Sears Christmas catalog that we’d get as kids. It would be completely trashed by the constant browsing through. As a child free adult,,I look forward to spending time with friends and family. Or, I sometimes go on a trip. Although those things are fun, the excitement of Christmas for a kid is missed !

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 8, 2017 at 9:22 pm

      Yes!! I remember the catalogs – Sears and JC Penney! My mother used go through each catalog with me to see what I liked. It sounds so antiquated now but it was a very special part of our holiday tradition!

Leave a Comment