My Favorite Christmas Memory

My Favorite Christmas Memory

This was my favorite Christmas.

My favorite Christmas was definitely the one that we had when I was in the seventh grade. Everything was as close to okay as it ever got around there and things were good. There was so much snow on the ground.

I remember worrying about how Christmas was going to turn out because I would constantly hear the arguments between my stepparents about how they were going to manage to afford to buy seven kids Christmas presents. It was a lot of pressure on them, but the day Christmas actually came I think we were all pleasantly surprised. I can still remember the tears that I cried when I opened up the present that had my very first cell phone in there. I was in such shock because I remember my stepfather repeatedly making it a point to let me know that I wasn't going to get a cell phone this year. I had wanted a cell phone more than anything else. Not to mention, a group of people from a church brought each of my siblings and I a huge cardboard box filled with presents for us all!

I still to this day believe that was probably the best Christmas that we ever shared together. There was no arguing, no yelling. We were just all together as a family and we loved each other. I wish every year had been like that one.

Later that night, we ended up having a bonfire party and a bunch of my stepparents friends came over and I was actually allowed to sit outside with the grown ups and join in on adult conversation. I felt so loved that day. If only every day could have been like that.

Cover Image Credit: Larisa Koshkina

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Gender Should Not Be The Deciding Factor Of A Friendship

It is possible for a boy and a girl to be JUST FRIENDS!

In today's society, we refuse to comprehend that a heterosexual relationship can be completely platonic. There is no friendship without the sexual tension, no two people can spend their time together unless they are attracted to one another. If one has a significant other but is also hanging out with someone else, they are cheating, not just hanging out with a friend.

Unfortunately, I have fallen victim in the past to believe the myth that two people of opposite attractions cannot have any type of relationship unless it is sexual.

But I am here to kill this myth and shed some light on why it is simply incorrect.

There are about a billion ways people can meet today. Past, classes, randomly on the street, at the gym, church, work, out, etc. The nice thing about meeting people, especially in a specific social situation or activity is that you most likely have something in common with them.

Believe it or not, you can have something in common with someone and enjoy that person enough to do that activity with them without it meaning anything else besides enjoying that person's company.

Another thing that needs to be made clear besides the sharing of a common hobby or view is the idea that while someone is in a relationship, they are allowed to have friends of the opposite gender and no, that does not mean they are cheating.

Gender has no effect on someone's personality and personality is what brings friend together.

Saying you are not allowed to have friends if they are the opposite gender or sex as you is just cruel.

Assuming that two people are together just because of what they look like is just one of society's huge problems. We make so many assumptions just from a single look and make judgments from those assumptions when many times, there is no basis to go off of. This causes so many problems in relationships and friendships alike that are simply unnecessary. Problems including the start of rumors and lies which are all too common these days and have a tendency to ruin relationships.

There is no truth without cold hard fact but many times if someone has doubt in themselves or has any doubt at all in their mind, the slightest tip-off can get them going and commonly, people take this doubt the wrong way which tears people apart.

Maybe we want someone to blame.

Maybe you’ve had the same best friend for years and all of a sudden someone else comes along and takes some of their attention, perhaps you are in a committed relationship with someone and they make a new friend who you see as a threat.

In either of these cases, would the situation always be worse if that new person was of the opposite gender/sex/attraction? More likely than not the answer is yes. Why? Because we are challenged.

We are shoved in between a rock and a hard place trying to figure out why we are so threatened all of a sudden and the answer is very simple really.

Everyone that is not us, is able to bring something else to the table that we may not and vice versa. When this new person comes along it is almost always a million times worse if they are a hinder to you. You suddenly become angry, jealous and petty over the smallest things you would never care about had this new friend been the same gender as your significant other or best friend etc. We feel so threatened, so unconfident that someone else is able to step in and take what we have that we often end up making things worse for ourselves.

So, my dear audience, take it from someone that learned the hard way, people can have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex/gender without it being sexual.

We can have friends in this world that aren't exactly like us and there is nothing wrong with that, we should not be punished and you should not punish others for who they enjoy the company of. Calm down and see what's really going on if there is truly a worry about infidelity or the loss of friendship. Think about the trust that you have in whatever relations you have currently and remember that being jealous and saying things you don’t mean is never worth losing someone you care about.

Cover Image Credit: Shayna Rosenberg

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An Open Letter To My Grandpa On The Six Month Anniversary Of His Death

"Never lose that smile. That smile is worth a million bucks, and when you smile, the whole world smiles with you"

Hey gramps, it's been a while. I’ve missed you like crazy...well, really, we all have. You really were loved by so many people, even if you were a pain in the ass a lot of the time. A lot of us are still pretty torn up about it. To be honest, I don’t think things will ever be the same without you around. It’s odd having birthdays go by without you hovering over us as we place the candles in the cake, insisting “don’t forget one for good luck!” or “you have to have the first piece!” to whoever’s birthday it is. I know that it seemed annoying at the time, but it would be amazing to still see you showing up outside the house ten times a day, or calling me up at school to make sure mom is alright and expecting me to know where she is because she hadn’t answered the home phone.

Other than birthdays, there are a lot of things you’ve missed since you’ve been gone. Your first great-grandchild was born. I can hear you now, amending your prideful speech to anyone that would listen— “I’ve got 11 beautiful grandchildren, 7 boys and four girls”— to include your beautiful great-grandson as well. You also have another great-grandchild on the way, and two of your granddaughters are newly engaged. You must have had some inkling that one of them was going to get engaged soon, because you welcomed my soon to be brother-in-law to the family in what became your last few hours.

A lot has been going on with me too, grandpa. You might already know some of this though. I wonder if you heard me every single night I spent at school the few months after your death. I sat out on a little ledge for a while in the inner quad, staring up at the stars and picking the first one I saw that particular night to talk to as if it were you. It was a rough patch in life for sure, but even in death, your common phrases helped get me through it. It was almost like that star was saying back to me “just brush the bad things off your shoulder, and never lose that smile. That smile is worth a million bucks, and when you smile, the whole world smiles with you.” In case you weren’t listening, here’s what’s been going on with me and what’s happened since my midnight star chats with you have stopped.

I finally learned all the lyrics to “My Way” since it was your favorite song. Really anything by Sinatra was your favorite, but I know you liked that one in particular. You sang it any chance you got, and from time to time I sing it to myself now, too.

I started wearing that horseshoe ring you gave me for confirmation from time to time, the one with the scorpion on it. I wear it any time I need good luck or just particularly miss you, always with the horseshoe opening facing toward me like you insisted to “keep the good luck in.” I’m wearing it right now as I’m writing this even.

I started writing here on The Odyssey too. I’d probably have to print everything out for you if I wanted you to be able to read it, but even if you couldn’t you’d still be proud. You’d probably go into the story again about how your mother wrote poetry and songs all the time. I guess I have your genes to thank for my love of writing.

I’ve also started staying clean-shaven again, just like you always liked. I can hear you in the back of my head now: “other people, they need all that. But your face is too handsome to cover up, grandson.” While I don’t necessarily agree with you there, I stayed clean-shaven for a while after you passed, then grew out my facial hair and left it that way for a few months. I think you’d like the way I look now; I’ve been trying to stay completely clean-shaven lately. I’m not sure why I’ve made the switch, but I think it has something to do with you.

I think that’s about it for now, grandpa. I’ll try and come visit you at the cemetery as soon as I can. I hope you’re doing alright up there, and just know that we all really miss you down here. Say hello to grandma for me. I love you, grandpa.

Cover Image Credit: Cole Stolte

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