The adult expectation of spending more for Christmas without the adult paycheck

Students spend more during the holidays while still making less

More stories from Brian Sheridan



Copy Editor Brian Sheridan sits among the presents he and his roommate have wrapped for their friends and family.

All my life I’ve listened to adults express their animosity toward the holiday season and I’ve always wondered, “What could make a person hate Christmas so much?”

The Christmas season is so freeing to children. Winter break quickly approaches, snow days take place, long hours are spent frolicking through the snow and at the end of the month, you’re showered in gifts and joy — it almost seems magical.

As a kid, there’s no better time in the world than the days approaching Christmas.

But then I see people who couldn’t wish the holiday season by faster. As I move into true adulthood, I start to empathize with those adults a little bit more.

This is one of the first years I felt truly obligated to buy every member of my family and my close friends real, honest gifts. When I was younger, I would buy my Mom and Dad something little with the help of others but this year I tried my best to get something meaningful for everyone on my own.

It’s a rewarding feeling, don’t get me wrong, but this goal of mine has not been forgiving on my wallet.

Obviously I don’t have to get every single person something decorated in gold and made in the finest silks, but it adds up when I calculate the total costs between my parents, grandparents, brother, friends and girlfriend.

Then, I also get involved with various secret Santa/white elephant gift exchanges for friend groups, organizations and work. Not exactly as important as family, or even necessary to participate in, but I do it nonetheless because I spend a lot of time with these people and know they’re all worthy of gifts.

As a college student, I work part-time at the most. Right now, I’m doing a little bit less than that and it’s been a struggle between wanting to get everyone nice things and still having enough money for food and rent.

It’s a weird transitioning period for students. We start to have the same obligations as adults and are no longer expected to behave and live like children, although it still may still feel like that for some.

I’m still nearly as broke as I was as a kid, but now I have to start contributing to adult things like the number of presents under the Christmas tree. Believe me, I want to do this, I feel like I should, but it makes the season a little bit harder financially and emotionally.

I’m at the point where I begin to think of all the people who hate Christmas. Most people want others to have a pleasant holiday season, but does anyone really want to shovel out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to do that? The answer is no, hence the “bah humbug” attitude.

Of course, there’s no need to spend thousands of dollars to make people happy during Christmas. The best way I found is to just ask people what they want. Most times, you’re family and friends aren’t going to tell you to buy them a hoverboard, even if grandma really wants it.

People are understanding of the situation college kids are in. While you may be expected to contribute more than in past years, an abundance of smaller, more meaningful gifts can be just as touching as long as they know you’re trying.

This year, I want to make it the best Christmas possible for the people I love, but this shouldn’t come at the cost of my personal well being.