As a kid, Christmas was my favorite holiday. Once it was time to turn to the December page of my Puppy of the Month wall calendar, I would carefully mark each day that passed with a big, red “X” until the 25th finally arrived.


It wasn’t just the presents that got me so excited — although tearing into my packages on Christmas morning was a definite highlight. But some of my best holiday memories had nothing to do with my Santa loot: decorating the tree, driving around to look at Christmas lights, frosting cookies at the kitchen table.


The older I got, the more all of these things just seemed like a huge hassle. If I put up lights, all I could think about was how much work it would be to take them down. When I thought about decorating a tree, it didn’t seem worth the trouble of removing all of the ornaments and boxing them up a month later. And cookies? Why bother with baking when you can buy perfectly good Christmas cookies at the grocery store?


As I ran around town this week, fighting crowds of last-minute shoppers like myself, my holiday spirit was pretty much on life support. Although I take partial responsibility for my Grinch-like demeanor, I have to place some of the blame on my equally grumpy peers. Everyone was rushing, frowning, sighing — there wasn’t a smile to be seen.


By the time I left the mall and headed to the drugstore — my last stop — to purchase gift-wrapping supplies, I was ready to throw in the proverbial towel. I’d had enough.


I groaned as I shuffled to the end of a long line, tissue paper and ribbon in hand. Just as I was about to get a serious case of line rage, a little girl standing in front of me turned around and said, with a huge smile on her face, “Hi! My name’s Bethany. Merry Christmas!”


The sparkle in her eyes seemed vaguely familiar. Suddenly, I remembered what it felt like to be a kid at Christmas time. I couldn’t help but smile as I replied, “Merry Christmas, Bethany.”


And just like that, my Grinch spell was broken. But I’ll probably still get my Christmas cookies at the grocery store.


Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.