The holidays are probably the most emotional season of the entire year. Being in college, this is especially true.
I say this because there is A LOT at stake for students in college. Let me shed a little light on what I mean…
The last month of the fall semester is stressful and overwhelming for students for numerous reasons…
1. Finals. Not a whole lot needs to be said about that.
2. Christmas shopping. There’s literally NO time to shop, but it needs to be done somehow.
3. If you have a job, you have less time to do homework and study, which is also stressful.
4. Packing. Amongst the chaos that is the holiday season, you still have to pack your things for when you go home after finals because you have to be out of your room by a certain time and honestly, it is NOT a whole lot of time to get out of the room.
5. The anticipation of going home is almost unbearable.
Despite all of the chaos, nothing beats the thought of finally making it home for Christmas to be with your family and to share in the holiday cheer and traditions that you have cherished for so many years, however, this looks a little different for some people. People like me.
The holidays bear many different emotions for me, and if I am going to be completely honest, they are not all good ones.
I come from a divorced household and, unfortunately, life has not always been easy for me. Especially in more recent years, the holidays have become especially crazy.
My parents divorced when I was about 2 years old which means that Christmas day has always had a very different feel and dynamic for me. However, if I’m being totally honest, Christmas as a child always seemed absolutely perfect.
Even though my parents were divorced, Christmas with my mom and little sister was still the most perfect and joyful day I could have ever imagined. I remember sitting around the tree with my mom and little sister, opening presents and drinking hot chocolate, and by the end of the morning, being surrounded by all sorts of colors from the wrapping paper. And it did not stop there…
After opening gifts, the three of us dolled up and went to my favorite place in the entire world, my grandparents house. They always had a beautiful tree covered in lights and handmade ornaments that we made for them during arts and crafts at daycare. Delicious smells spilled out of the kitchen that made your mouth water and your stomach growl. And hey, there is ALWAYS that dish that only grandma can make perfectly, am I right?
My favorite aunt, my Aunt Christie (we called her Auntie Cissy though because we couldn’t pronounce Christie), was also there and I thought she was one of the coolest people growing up because she made some of the most beautiful pieces of art I could ever imagine. I remember she always asked for a piece of art from us every Christmas and I was always mad because I always thought mine never looked as good as hers, but she always encouraged me and complimented the various amounts of colors I somehow managed to fit onto a piece of paper.
My cousin Skye would come and he always had the coolest electronics. I remember learning how to use an iPod and watching him play all these crazy games on his computer, which I thought was extremely entertaining.
Grandpa sat in the living room watching Christmas movies while Mom, Auntie Cissy, and Grandma all cooked in the kitchen. I remember sitting in the living room with my little sister and Grandpa anxiously awaiting the delicious meal that I knew was coming.
Dinner time was the best and I remember Grandpa ALWAYS had to have the BIGGEST piece of ham because, well, he’s Grandpa! We would all toast with our Martinellis and feast on the most beautiful meal cooked by the most amazing people as we talked about what we learned in the past year. It was one of my favorite things about Christmas, sitting and eating around the dinner table with some of my favorite people in the entire world.
After, came the most anticipated time of the day, present time. There is just something about opening presents around the Christmas tree with my family that was just so magical. It was not a feeling that could be duplicated.
After gifts, we would watch more Christmas movies in the living room while drinking hot chocolate and eating pie because, what’s the holidays without good ole’ fashioned pie?
Then came the time to go home which, in my opinion, was the worst because then I had to wait a whole year to experience this feeling again, but, it was always worth the wait.
Mom would play our favorite Christmas album, John Denver and The Muppets and we would slowly fall asleep on the car ride home. And so ended our beautiful Christmas.
This picture perfect Christmas, unfortunately, has changed.
Within the past few years, both my grandparents passed away. My auntie and cousin have moved to different states and I never see them anymore. I also have moved to a different state and now work a job that sometimes requires me to work holidays. Christmas is different.
I have never had a father who loved and cherished me. I have never had the typical family of two parents and kids who always were together on Christmas day. I had probably one of the most skewed versions of family growing up, but to me, it was perfect and I held to tightly to that as a child.
I’m 22 now and Christmas tends to remind me of the days with my family that seemed to be perfect. Christmas these days is so much more difficult as my mother, sister, and I have gotten older. Tensions are higher, we have grown to be different, and well, sometimes it’s difficult to be in a room with all three of us. There are so many times I wished I could have the Christmas that all of my friends tell me about or the Christmas’s I see in movies and on everyone’s posts on Instagram, but unfortunately, that’s not the case for me.
However, the point of this article is not to express some sort of regret or anger I may have. It’s not for you to read this to accumulate some sort of pity for me. It’s for you to read and understand what it may be like on the other side of the spectrum if you’re not there.
I miss my grandparents. I miss my auntie and my cousin. I miss the small things that my family and I did when I was little that meant the world to me. However, just because things are not what they used to be does not mean that I don’t love the holidays.
My broken little family still feels the most whole it ever has on Christmas day. My little sister and my mom and I still get together on Christmas day and have the best time together. Tears are shed. Hot chocolate is consumed. The fireplace resonates warmth. Out little home is still filled with the smells of Christmas and we are still surrounded by the various amounts of colors of wrapping paper.
My little broken family still seems perfect on Christmas day and it is because we have each other.
I have been so blessed by a mother who loves me so deeply and a little sister who has become my best friend and, even though we are still daunted by the little reminders and memories of the things that once were, I am extremely thankful for the times we have together.
Please know that everyone’s Christmas is different and beautiful in its own way and that’s awesome because if it were all the same, that would be boring! I don’t know what your Christmas looks like. I don’t know if you too are reminded of the memories of what used to be or if every year you’re annoyed by family and the repetitive questions of, “What are you doing after college” or “Do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend yet?” Or maybe your Christmas still carries the sweet memories and fun traditions you had as a little kid. Whatever the case may be, always remember what I have recently learned, that your Christmas does not have to be a certain way. Your Christmas is beautiful and I hope that this holiday season, you remember all of these beautiful moments and memories for years to come.
So on Christmas day, you can catch me sitting around the fire with my mom and little sister, drinking hot chocolate and cozying up by the fire place, and you know what? It still is one of the most perfect days of the year to me.
So Merry Christmas to you and the wonderful memories you will be making this month and for the many years to come.