A Christmas Letter To My 17-Year-Old Self


There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child. ~Erma Bombeck

I was actually bigger than this at 17, but…
Dear 17-Year-Old Me:
 
              You don’t realize it now, but this is the last Christmas you’ll be able to enjoy childhood. It’s the last Yuletide without heating bills and 1040-EZ forms and the twin demons of Visa and MasterCard. Stop bitching about how horrible your life is for just a sec and enjoy it. It’s Christmas, dammit.
 
              In just a few years you’ll be working your ass off, trying to stave off the stresses of college coupled with a full-time job and the ugly spectre of undiagnosed autism in an NT world. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? Right now your world is downright magical. The adult world is just a distant cloud on the horizon. It’s your last year in Europe, with its charming Christmas markets and actual snow on fairy-tale village rooftops. Write about it. Take some pictures. Even if you don’t now (and I doubt you will, with all the college letters you’re writing), save a few memories for me later, all right? We might want to use them in a novel someday in the future.
 

It's like a real version of Hogsmeade

          Since it’s Christmas, I know there’s that pesky issue of The Parents to deal with too. I get that you often hate them and think they never understand. But guess what? They’re actually your biggest advocates…and your biggest fans, too. You’re all they have. Keep being true and strong and honest. Nothing you ever do could disappoint them. And don’t worry about being weird either. One day, they WILL understand. It’ll take nearly two decades, but it’ll be worth it. Tell them you love them once in a while. Speaking of family, too, give your grandparents a call for Christmas. Two of them, including your favorite grandfather, will be gone within the next ten years.
 
          Christmas is a season for giving. It’s a radical notion for you, since I know how shy you are, but try giving more of yourself and see what happens. Sometimes that’s the greatest gift of all. I know you think you don’t have much to offer. You’re wrong. There are countless people out there whom you’ll touch within the next few years (remember the moral behind It’s a Wonderful Life?) Smile once in a while. Stop being so serious. You’re not Vulcan; at least, I don’t think you are.
 
Having a cat on the bridge is just illogical
 
I have to bring you some bad news along with the joy of the season. The next couple of years will make or break you. Like Luke Skywalker, you will be tempted by the dark side. Maybe not literally, but there will be some dark times in your life and you’ll be tempted to give up. Remember that there are many people who love you. Don’t forget to pray, either. You’ll get through this dark hour, and you’ll live to enjoy many more Christmases. By the way, any future descendants and/or your Prince Howling Mad Charming (don’t ask) are depending on this, OK?
 
Don’t worry about buying big, expensive gifts for everyone on your Christmas list. I know you like to find the perfect gift for everyone…but that’s not really what Christmas is about. If you’re ever in doubt, pop A Charlie Brown Christmas or The Grinch into the DVD player. Oh, wait, you still have a VCR. Sorry about that. Also, and this is important: don’t forget to be grateful for all that you have. I know you’re a teenager, and this is hard, but give it a shot.
 
My fifteen-years-ago self, you’re actually all right. If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be here writing this right now. The next decade and a half are going to be a real adventure, just like Buddy the Elf leaving the North Pole for the first time (wait…you haven’t seen that either. Damn.) Enjoy it. Use your true gifts and always remember that your life touches so many others’. I’ll be waiting for you in the future. I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about.
 
Oh, and I remembered to buy you that Beauty and the Beast snowglobe you wanted. Just remember to bring me some peppermint bark and remembrances, and we’ll call it even.
 
Merry Christmas,
Heather (2011 version)
 
Let it snow, baby!
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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on December 17, 2011.

6 Responses to “A Christmas Letter To My 17-Year-Old Self”

  1. Awwww that was sweet and a little sad. I don’t think I could write a letter to myself in the past, mainly because my memory sucks! Where abouts in Europe did you live?

  2. If there was a button for more than just like I’d have pressed that 🙂

  3. It’s all so true…Isn’t retrospect a wonderful thing!! 🙂

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