Heartwarming story about Christmas

Short Story: Home For Christmas Part 1

What would you do to fix things between you and your family?

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"No, I haven't made up with them, Grace. You know this." I shifted the landline from one shoulder to the other, rolling my eyes as I answered her question. She'd been asking me for months now if I had patched things up with my family. My answer was always the same. 'No'. Of course, I hadn't fixed things with them, it had been six years since I'd even spoke to any of them. Initially, I had really wanted to. I loved them, even if they hated me. I thought I couldn't live without them. They used to be the ones that I leaned on.

"Why not?" She asked, slightly frustrated. "It'd be so easy. You know that I did the same thing last month. I wouldn't pester you if I didn't think that it was the best thing for you. You have no idea how great it feels to have your mom and dad back."

I sat in my painting room, in the chair I used for thinking. "Our families are nothing alike. Yours have been wanting to forgive you, and you didn't leave them alone for so long. Six years of radio silence is too much to just drop in with a 'Hey mom, hey pop! How's it going, hope you don't still hate me after choosing to go to art school, and letting the family business flop!'" Now, after those six long years, I had grown away from them. I had my own life here, hundreds of miles away. I was happy. Not saying I didn't miss them. I did, terribly. Especially at times like this. I just realized now, that I didn't need them. My friends were enough. Even though I missed my parents, they hated me too much to ever fix things.

"You didn't destroy the business. It was their own fault for not letting anyone outside the family own it. Besides, they're your parents, they'll miss you. There's no way they don't want you back. Look at my family."

"Grace, listen. My family has been wanting to get rid of me for years. They didn't support anything that I did, expected me to take over a floral shop, and never cared about me enough to listen. They basically disowned me when I chose art school over business."

I heard a sigh on the other end of the line. "Ana, look. They are your family. You've got to try. Give them a call or something. Your parents will forgive you, and your extended family will be so happy to hear from you."

"My answer is no. Do I want things patched between us? Yes. Do I think that it's ever going to happen? No. You didn't hear them yell at me that night." I bit my lip, thinking back to when this whole fiasco started. When I told my parents I wasn't going to own and run the store. The anger and disappointment in the faces made me blink back tears and steady my voice. "I'm pretty sure they hate me. Why do you care so much anyway?"

"I'm not supposed to tell you this, but your parents have been emailing me. They keep asking about how you are. If you're okay, what your grades are like. They miss you. They want you back, but don't know how to make the first step."

"What?" My family had been emailing my friend to siphon information? Half of my heart was soaring with happiness, while the other half was a compendium of emotions, ranging from devastated that I had been so angry at them, assuming they were mad at me, so angry that they wouldn't just call and apologize to me. It was so good to hear that they cared, but was it enough to call them? To start bridging the gap? I sighed. Maybe.

"Ana? You still there?"

"Huh?" I blurted, "I mean, yeah. I gotta go."

"Please, please consider it. You have to make up with your family before it's too late."

"Bye, Grace." I hung up the phone and set it facedown on the round metal table in front of me. I leaned back my chair and stared at a half-finished painting. I had the background finished, but the foreground was giving me trouble. The painting depicted a winter's night sky, a few snow-covered pines stood out against a dark blue-skied backdrop. In between the trees, houses covered in Christmas decorations were visible. So far the front center of the picture was a girl, sitting on a bench in amidst the snow, her back to the art's audience. She looked hunched over like she was unhappy. I felt like it was incomplete like more people were needed to make it look right--feel right. I scoffed looking at it now. According to Grace, it was just like me. I "needed" my family back. I crossed my arms.

I'm fine. I didn't need anyone. I shifted in my chair, drumming my fingers on the table. I didn't need any more family. My friends were good enough. Flashes of my childhood pop randomly into my head. Of my mom, tucking me in for the night. My dad, at a hockey game, screaming madly when I shot the puck straight into the net. A Christmas memory of all of us hugging and smiling as we unwrapped presents.

I jumped out of my chair, walking quickly to my laptop. I opened it and went straight to an airline that was stationed a few miles down the road. Without thinking, I booked a flight for that night, in an hour. When I finished, I sat on a barstool at my kitchen's island. I put a hand over my mouth, shocked. Had I seriously just done that? I stared at the screen, which told me apparently, I had.

Read Part 2 here: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/12-30-short-story...

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20 Things That Happen When A Jersey Person Leaves Jersey

Hoagies, pizza, and bagels will never be the same.
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Ah, the "armpit of America." Whether you traveled far for college, moved away, or even just went on vacation--you know these things to be true about leaving New Jersey. It turns out to be quite a unique state, and leaving will definitely take some lifestyle adjustment.

1. You discover an accent you swore you never had.

Suddenly, people start calling you out on your pronunciation of "cawfee," "wooter," "begel," and a lot more words you totally thought you were saying normal.

2. Pork Roll will never exist again.

Say goodbye to the beautiful luxury that is pork roll, egg, and cheese on a bagel. In fact, say goodbye to high-quality breakfast sandwiches completely.

3. Dealing with people who use Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, or Dominos as their go-to pizza.

It's weird learning that a lot of the country considers chain pizza to be good pizza. You're forever wishing you could expose them to a real, local, family-style, Italian-owned pizza shop. It's also a super hard adjustment to not have a pizza place on every single block anymore.

4. You probably encounter people that are genuinely friendly.

Sure Jersey contains its fair share of friendly people, but as a whole, it's a huge difference from somewhere like the South. People will honestly, genuinely smile and converse with strangers, and it takes some time to not find it sketchy.

5. People drive way slower and calmer.

You start to become embarrassed by the road rage that has been implanted in your soul. You'll get cut off, flipped off, and honked at way less. In fact, no one even honks, almost ever.

6. You realize that not everyone lives an hour from the shore.

Being able to wake up and text your friends for a quick beach trip on your day off is a thing of the past. No one should have to live this way.

7. You almost speak a different language.

The lingo and slang used in the Jersey area is... unique. It's totally normal until you leave, but then you find yourself receiving funny looks for your jargon and way fewer people relating to your humor. People don't say "jawn" in place of every noun.

8. Hoagies are never the same.

Or as others would say, "subs." There is nothing even close in comparison.

9. Needing Wawa more than life, and there's no one to relate.

When you complain to your friends about missing Wawa, they have no reaction. Their only response is to ask what it is, but there's no rightful explanation that can capture why it is so much better than just some convenient store.

10. You have to learn to pump gas. Eventually.

After a long period of avoidance and reluctance, I can now pump gas. The days of pulling up, rolling down your window, handing over your card and yelling "Fill it up regular please!" are over. When it's raining or cold, you miss this the most.

11. Your average pace of walking is suddenly very above-average.

Your friends will complain that you're walking too fast - when in reality - that was probably your slow-paced walk. Getting stuck behind painfully slow people is your utmost inconvenience.

12. You're asked about "Jersey Shore" way too often.

No, I don't know Snooki. No, our whole state and shore is not actually like that. We have 130 miles of some of the best beach towns in the country.

13. You can't casually mention NYC without people idealizing some magical, beautiful city.

Someone who has never been there has way too perfect an image of it. The place is quite average and dirty. Don't get me wrong, I love a good NYC day trip as much as the next person, but that's all it is to you... a day trip.

14. The lack of swearing is almost uncomfortable.

Jerseyans are known for their foul mouths, and going somewhere that isn't as aggressive as us is quite a culture adjustment.

15. No more jughandles.

No longer do you have to get in the far right lane to make a left turn.

16. You realize that other states are not nearly as extreme about their North/South division.

We literally consider them two different states. There are constant arguments and debates about it. The only thing that North and South Jersey can agree on is that a "Central Jersey" does not exist.

17. Most places also are not in a war over meat.

"Pork roll" or "taylor ham"... The most famous debate amongst North and South Jersey. It's quite a stupid argument, however, considering it is definitely pork roll.

18. You realize you were spoiled with fresh produce.

After all, it's called the "Garden State" for a reason. Your mouth may water just by thinking about some fresh Jersey corn.

19. You'll regret taking advantage of your proximity to everything.

Super short ride to the beach and a super short ride to Philly or NYC. Why was I ever bored?

20. Lastly, you realize how much pride you actually have in the "armpit of America," even if you claimed to dislike it before.

After all, there aren't many places with quite as much pride. You find yourself defending your state at all necessary moments, even if you never thought that would be the case.

Cover Image Credit: Travel Channel

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Everyone Should Care About Latinx Issues, Regardless Of Their Own Identities

It's important no matter who you are or where you come from.

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Disclaimer: As someone who is white, I am speaking on a culture that is not my own and which I am not an authority on. Please remember this and do your own research. Reach out to those who do identify as Latinx but as always, respect that it is not the job of any minority population to field all questions and educate.

People often say that no matter how old you get or how much you think you know, you never stop learning. I've always found this to be true but recently I was reminded of just how true it really is. On March 27, Bowling Green State University held their 24th annual Latino/A/X issues conference. I had heard about the conference in passing much earlier in the month and it piqued my interest but admittedly slipped my mind pretty quickly after hearing about it. It wasn't until a friend of mine had informed me that she and another one of our friends were receiving awards at the conference that I finally put it on my calendar.

As I looked through the program at all of the different events scheduled for the day, the first to catch my eye was a theatrical performance called Spanish Ohio: Reflections on loss, gain acceptance and belonging moderated by a Bowling Green professor and friend, Emily Aguliar. I can confidently say that I have not, in a long time felt so confused and lost in a theatrical setting in a long time. The performance was presented in about 90% Spanish and 10% English and having little more than a basic understanding of Spanish from my high school days, I was able to understand a few key words or phrases here and there but more I just found myself intrigued by what I didn't understand...which was a lot. At the end of the performance, there was a sort of Q&A; where we as the audience could ask questions to the performers. During which time an audience member made a comment that really opened my mind.

She had said that it was important for people outside of the Latinx community to be lost in that moment. That the not understanding was what so many people whose first language isn't English feel all the time.

This statement really hit me hard and stuck with me. Even though I was at a performance at my college where I knew that I was safe, secure and taken care of, not knowing what was going on around me was overwhelming and a little unsettling. Not because I fear the existence of languages other than English, but because I felt as if I was expected to understand and take away things that I simply couldn't. And the fact that people move about in the world feeling like this every day in a society where they are not looked after or cared for was a painful but oh so necessary realization.

People are being forced to exist in a place that doesn't make it easy for them to do so. All too often the one piece of 'advice' given to those who speak any language other than English is simply to 'Just speak English' as if it is more important for the majority to feel comfortable and unthreatened by the existence of a language outside of our own than it is to respect the culture, language, and diversity of the Latinx community.

This conference really opened my eyes to the struggles of the Latinx community but at the same time, it highlighted and celebrated the achievements as well. I was lucky enough to be able to see two women who are very important to me receive awards for the work that they've done in and around the community. Both of these women are beyond deserving of the accolades they received. They are passionate, strong, opinionated women with knowledge and heart and I was thankful to be there to witness both of them receiving the recognition that they so deserve. It is SO important to recognize the contributions of people who have been pushed to the sort of outskirts of the conversation so to speak and I can say that it was very moving for me to see my friends as well as the others at the conference reveling in their identities and their cultures.

This is how it should be at all times, not just at a conference.

People should feel comfortable in their identities and people who are in positions of privilege should be using their voices to amplify the marginalized. I am so very thankful to have been able to attend this event and learn and grow in my understanding of culture, identity, and people. So, thank you to BGSU and LSU for putting in the work to make this possible for everyone, and to Emily and Camila-I'm proud of you both! Amplify the marginalized and underrepresented and never stop learning everything you can.

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