Remember as a kid when Christmas Eve meant an inability to fall sleep, chocolate milk was synonymous with dinner and dandelions weren’t weeds, but wishes. When sidewalks were for hopscotch and chalk, skip-its and scooters, and pinkies were reserved for promises and ring watches. Before calories existed, when the worst of days was the bleep-test in P.E, and all artistic creations were masterpieces worthy of display on the refrigerator.
When we were young and worrying lived only in the form of nightmares, dreams were boundless, and names were ascribed in giggles of superpowers and secrets.
Free, they’d say, as we’d twirl barefoot in floral dresses and pigtails, and careless they’d note and wild and free as the butterflies we pretended to be.
Christmas morning is practically the same, only fewer matching flannel pajama sets and more cookies for Santa. Wine and dinner are essentially interchangeable, and wishes are still occasionally made on eyelashes. Sidewalks are a cheaper mode of transport than the metro or bus, and engagement rings become favorite promises. Calories and steps are counted; the fridge is covered in magnets about hangovers and Mondays and filled with day-old leftovers of take-out containers. The best of days include a long run, a good book, and a bath, or trashy reality TV.
Basic, they’ll say now, assuming that cups of venti black coffee are peppered in pumpkin spice flavor, or PSL’s for those of us who speak in acronyms. Slut, they’ll imply with their brows raised, or prude, they’ll mock laced with disgust. Fat, they’ll argue or anorexic they’ll assume, plain, mousy, awkward, weird. Because we have to fit in labels, boxes, we can’t be messy or complicated.
Somewhere, in the time between catching fireflies and paying rent, dunk-a-roo’s and 9-5’s, lunchable’s and ramen noodles, aesthetics became equivalent to our worth. Remember instead when labels were reserved solely for store brands and album covers? When someone’s worth wasn’t determined by beauty, but instead their humanity?
Why is it so easy to forget the one definitive label that triumphs in its significance, because it unites us all: human?