Besides summertime, the holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year. My house hosts two events during the season (usually both Thanksgiving and Christmas), I get to live right across the river from the unofficial Christmas capital of the world (a.k.a. Rockefeller Center) and there's nothing more joyous to me than listening to Christmas jazz play through the speakers of a major department store for some last-minute shopping (it may sound weird but it is one of my strange guilty pleasures). All of these things combined with the traditions and undeniable "magic" of this season makes for one of the happiest times that we are lucky enough to experience once every year.
But with this happiness comes a lot of reflection, and even some yearning for years' past.
I am undoubtedly a nostalgic person, and the holiday season is especially intact when it comes to this side of mine. I think about the utter anticipation of opening gifts on Christmas morning, which my family still does to this day but without all the hubbub of Santa. I think about the annual New York City trip my girl scout troop used to take every year with our "corresponding" boy scout troop where we would see the tree, walk through St. Patrick's Cathedral and go to the infamous Ellen's Stardust Diner to listen to the most iconic Broadway tunes. These trips understandably stopped once we all got to college and became wrapped up in our own finals and busyness, but it is a tradition I miss the most. I even fondly remember the holiday choir concerts I got to perform in in high school that made me feel so wrapped up in the holidays I could've made the almost three-hour event into a warm blanket for my town. Now, I get to attend those concerts and see my sister perform with the band, but I would be lying if I said I didn't kind of miss those festivities.
More than anything, however, I miss the people who aren't around anymore to enjoy the holiday season with.
My uncle was practically the king of Thanksgiving with his storytelling and turkey calls; my great uncle would crack the funniest jokes and banter with his brother; my family would visit my grandma since we would spend Christmas with my mom's side; even another one of my great uncles would come to our house every Christmas morning and help build dollhouses or whatever big toys we got if we did.
These are the little things that I remember, and while a lot of traditions have stayed the same— Christmas cookie baking, watching the Christmas movie marathons, having an epic countdown to Thanksgiving, still seeing the Rockefeller tree, having annual Christmas parties with each group of my friends— it just seems like a lot is different now because people have passed and life is not the same as how it used to be.
Some years include way more change than others, but 2019 definitely seems to be one of those years that includes the latter. There are things changing within my own life and even with some longtime friends and I've even witnessed the most growth within myself this past year out of my entire life. It is all great things for the most part, but the nostalgic side of myself longs for the feelings of past happiness and moments with people in the past.
I tell everyone that if I could go back in time and just watch everything unfold before my eyes— not so much live in the moment again but to watch it play out like a movie— I definitely would; I wouldn't change a thing, but I would want to go back just so I wouldn't take the moments for granted again. But what if I let the great moments of the present pass by, too?
So this holiday season, I am not taking anything for granted and will welcome every new way of celebrating with open arms. I know things will be different once the new year begins, but I'm going to live in the present for once and just enjoy this holiday season before I do anything else. New traditions will be put into place, old ones will reemerge but thank goodness the Christmas spirit stays the same inside of me every single year. And as long as that stays true, along with being surrounded by my family and friends, then I know I'll definitely be filled with holiday joy.