A Christmas Carol – Two Millennials Learn, Live, and Look Ahead

Brianna and Matthew Penfold
Spread the love

Guest article by Brianna and Matthew Penfold

The Christmas tree is decorated, the stockings are hung, and our favorite holiday movies are on repeat. The smells of gingerbread and hot apple cider transport us back to the joys of our earliest Christmases. We hum the carols we sang on our way to our grandparents’ houses, but suddenly the song is interrupted by the offbeat cracking of our knees as we stand up from placing gifts under the tree. It snaps us back to the reality that we are thirty-five, now the ones responsible for all the festivities, and not the little ones running down the stairs on Christmas morning.

Decorating the Christmas tree

We were born in 1988. Smack-dab in the middle of our generation. Millennials are sometimes seen as the generational middle child – balking at tradition, attention seeking, and feeling left out. The stereotypes don’t stop there – entitled, lazy, selfish, poor work ethic. Should we keep going? Job hoppers, lacking focus…. You get the picture. There is a never-ending list of complaints about our generation. This holiday season, we are choosing to see being a Millennial as a gift though. So, like in Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, let us be your ghost of Christmas past, present, and future as we appreciate our generation. 


Past. Oh, the mistakes we’ve made and the embarrassments we’ve had. In over three decades, relationships fizzled, work drained, and dreams, let’s just say, changed. We had the joy of being the first generation to grow up using social media, and social media reminds us of this often. Not only do our mistakes live rent free in our minds, but there is often photo evidence online to prove it all. The older the memories that pop up, the cringier they feel. Hopefully, we are moving away from our greatest missteps and miscalculations, but they are still fresh enough to wake us up in a cold sweat. While our flubs and fumbles still might make us squirm, the life lessons learned have made us more confident and decisive. We know what we need, want, and like, and we know what mistakes to not make again. Not to be too cliché, but our experiences, bad and good, have shaped who we are. And, one thing our generation possesses is self-awareness, and this is the gift of our past.        

Checking the cell phone

Present. Wake-up, scramble before work, work, scramble after work, stay up too late to scroll on the phone, go to bed. Repeat. Life is busy and hectic, but life is full. The days can seem monotonous, and stress can be abundant. Not to mention, motivation to workout is elusive, our metabolism has tanked, and everyone and their mom is trying to sell us supplements. We Millennials, in just a few decades, have lived through climate catastrophes, terrorist attacks, recessions, not to mention a pandemic, and so much more. So can you blame us for our current state of anxiety? But this is the age when we have our people, and we’re holding on tight. We have our purpose, and we’re firmly planting our feet. We might have been more carefree ten years ago (see paragraph above), but we wouldn’t give up where we are now. We’ve worked hard, and our hard work is paying off. While there are more responsibilities in our lives, these callings are the prize of our adulthood. As Andy Bernard said in The Office finale, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them,” and it is the gift of our present to know we are in those days now.

Gathering with friends

Future. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and web3, oh my! The future is coming, and it’s coming fast. If any generation is equipped for change, we are. Just with our entertainment alone, we’ve gone from rewinding our VHS tapes to binging on streaming services. And don’t get us started on the changes in communication. We’ve gone from desperately waiting through the dial-up screech in order to chat with friends to seamlessly holding video calls with people across the world. Obsolescence, whether planned or not, has become a routine part of our lives. All of these advances have taught us to be open to change and even lead the change. No matter what comes next, it’s indisputable that we will be willing to try new things and even start from scratch. The person who first said, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” never met a Millennial. We are too flexible and resilient to get left behind, and in fact going forward, we might be leading the way. It is the gift of our future that we know we are up for the challenges of tomorrow. 

So maybe, as Millennials, we aren’t thoughtless, but rather self-aware. Maybe we aren’t self-indulgent, but rather appreciate the moment. And, maybe we don’t lack commitment, but rather adapt. While we may no longer be the ones running down the steps on Christmas morning to see what Santa left, we can find joy in the fact that we have the past, present, and future gifts of being Millennials this holiday season. 

Brianna and Matthew Penfold are a wife-and-husband writing team. The Intrepid Three: Animus Revealed is their debut book. This work is a labor of love enlightened by their lifelong faith journeys and diverse experiences in medicine, law, victim advocacy, crisis intervention, research, and children and youth mentorship. By day, and sometimes by night, Brianna is an attorney, and Matthew is a pediatrician. They currently reside in Virginia where they are having a blast raising their energetic toddler.

Photos are courtesy of BookSavvy Public Relations


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.