Remember Christmas when you were a kid? You jumped out of bed and ran full-speed to the Christmas tree and started ripping open presents. Sometimes during the day you were unexpectedly put into clothes and sat in the backseat of the car while your family drove to some distant relative’s house. Your only real job was saying thank you after you opened a gift. Somehow all of that simplicity seems to have gone the way of Tamagotchi pets.

This Christmas, I was thrust into adulthood.  I was now expected to show up at a multitude of Christmas events, most of the time sprinting from one family Christmas to the next, taking part in what I like to call the “Christmas Marathon.”  I think I spent more time working on my “Christmas Marathon” schedule than I did scheduling classes for my senior year. Like many people, I have two separate immediate families, and of course each of those have their various extended families. I had eight “Christmases ” over break, four of which took place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Each leg of the marathon required self-adjustment. One family is quite conservative, so I avoided the topic of politics. Another is completely baffled by the idea of academia, so in order to avoid questions like “If there are Women’s Studies, why aren’t there Men’s Studies?” I only talk about tangible classes like Math. By the end of my marathon, I felt that I had more identities than a secret agent, but each of my assumed identities were just variations of myself. Who knew I was that multi-faceted?

Christmas is weird when you’re in between being a child in your parent’s family and having a family of your own. It’s like Christmas wasn’t really built for you—instead it was intended for kids and couples. This leaves the single twenty-something in holiday limbo, sometimes too old, sometimes too young. This year, I tried to be aware of others in holiday limbo but in different life stages. I spent time with my grandparents, something my younger siblings, who are teens and preteens, are rapidly becoming too cool to do. I went to dinner with a widowed friend who doesn’t have any kids and to lunch with my divorced fifty-something cousin whose only daughter lives out of state. I tried to look past the awkwardness of my own holiday limbo and see that others were in their own kind. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season and lose sight of what’s important—making connections with people. Some of my eight Christmases were boring, but I knew that I stepped outside of myself enough to know it’s not all about me. I can take the time I spend in holiday limbo and use it to make others’ holidays a little less lonely.