“Ugh, I’m out of food coloring!” I cried, peering into
the cupboard. It was the last thing I needed to finish the Christmas cookies.

Sigh. I’d already made enough runs to the store that I was on a
first name basis with Sue, the cashier from checkout lane 6. 

That’s when I turned to my teenage son, 17, sitting on the couch looking at his phone. 

“Heeeeeeey,” I said. “Could you go get me some food coloring?” 

“Sure,” he replied. He sprang up, grabbed the car keys, and took off. 

It was like I had my own Christmas elf! Which was a pretty awesome perk of celebrating the holiday season with older kids. 

Indeed, as my teenage son and his sister have shown me as they’ve grown older, there are plenty of reasons why Christmas with teens rocks.

Here are 20 of them:

A little bit of financial independence. You know what my son said when I offered him $5 to pay for the food coloring? “That’s okay, Mom. I have money.” Now that’s a Christmas miracle!

Teens are sturdier. I no longer fear that my kids will break the heirloom ornaments, topple over while helping with the outdoor lights, or drop the china when setting the table for Christmas dinner.

Their palates have matured. Gone are the days of picky eating, like the Christmas dinner when my preschooler ate nothing but rolls and brown sugar meant for the sweet
potatoes. As a teen he’ll eat almost anything. (Okay, he still loathes onions!)

Teens are more helpful with cooking and baking. They can chop the veggies and make the gravy. They can whip up extravagant dishes and desserts, whether because they are taking culinary classes or just want to emulate something they saw on TikTok.

Better yet, teens can clean the kitchen all by themselves when they are done. They don’t need supervision or nagging. Well, maybe a little bit of nagging.

I am no longer in charge of dressing them for the weather. Yup, gone are the days of wrangling them into winter gear a la Randy’s mom in A Christmas Story. Of course, I hope my teenage son wears a coat, but if he doesn’t, that’s on him, not me.

Big kids care about tradition. Whether it’s putting out the sock snowman they made in first grade or using Grandma’s recipe to make molasses cookies, teens genuinely appreciate tradition and connection with loved ones and holidays in the past.

Teenagers are still kids at heart, just bigger. They want to leave a plate of cookies out for Santa. They pile in the car when it’s time for our family to drive around and admire holiday lights. Their faces still light up with joy when opening gifts.

As the mom of teens, I am liberated from the Elf on the Shelf. We had a good run, but nowadays I can sit back (a little bit!) and relish the real magic of the season, which is simply being together.

And I love being together with them. This is in stark contrast to the days when they were younger, we’d all be stir crazy by New Year’s and I couldn’t wait for school to start again. With teens I wish time would slow down so I could linger in these special days with them.

Christmas with teens rocks because I no longer fret so much about the gifts. I don’t stress about hiding presents or scramble to obtain that deeply desired yet widely unavailable toy. (Do not ask me about the lengths to which I went to get my kids Zhou Zhou pets one year!)

Teens are happy to receive clothes as gifts, too. Remember the pouty faces or whiny voices as youngsters when they opened gifts and discovered clothes? Now my son is stoked to get a hoodie and my daughter is giddy to see duds from her favorite store.

And if by chance my teens are disappointed by a gift? They are mature enough to handle it. It’s not like that time my three-year-old ran from the room crying when a toy did not work. I think that year’s very vocal disappointment still lingers in the ether.

Teens give better gifts, too. I know, I know, gifts are not the real meaning of the season. But while I treasure the drawings and painted rocks from yesteryear, it touches my heart when my teens give me a book, they knew I wanted to read or a scarf they saw me admire.

They can wrap gifts themselves. My teenage daughter is masterful when it comes to using paper, tissue, and ribbon. She’s a big help with all the wrapping if I’m busy or just plain tired of doing it all myself. Plus, I don’t worry about her running with scissors anymore!

Their taste in holiday shows and movies is more palatable. Sure, I enjoyed watching classics like Frosty the Snowman when they were little. But not thirteen times in a row. Now my teenagers are just as excited as I am to watch grown-up movies like The Holiday or Die Hard that they never would have sat through as tots.

Teens can stay up late. Whether it’s watching our favorite movies together or going to the midnight Christmas Eve service at church, gone are the years when I had to hustle them to bed by a certain hour.

Teens sleep in on Christmas morning. They no longer rouse the entire household at the crack of dawn to open gifts. Christmas morning with big kids has a decadent, tranquil feel.

Teens grasp the meaning of Christmas in a deeper way. I love that we have profound talks about faith this time of year. It touches my heart, too, when I see them donate jackets to the homeless or put their own money in the red kettles.

And the 20th reason why Christmas with teens rocks?

Because it is still the most wonderful time of year, no matter if they are five or fifteen years old. And it’s an amazing gift every day, but especially at Christmas, to be the one that my teens call Mom.

Katy M. Clark is a writer and mom of two who embraces her imperfections on her blog Experienced Bad Mom.