This is a response to Holidays With A Small Family.
On every greeting card, in every song on the radio and every cheerful ad on TV, you'll see reminders that the holidays are a time to spend with family. It's the season to get together with your loved ones you may not have seen all year. Time to laugh, cry, reflect on old memories, and build new ones.
The thing is, there are other important people in my life besides my family. I'm not trying to rank my loved ones here, but objectively speaking, I spend more time with my friends than I do my parents, siblings, cousins. I live in another city, and for the past few years, my friends and partner have been the ones who've been there for me through all the ups and downs of daily life. When the season for spending quality time with my loved ones rolls around, they're the ones I think of.
I'll be the first to admit, my relationship with my family is more complicated than most people's. I don't feel that typical ease and joy when returning home for the holidays. Instead, it's something I have to brace myself for. I take the joy and bonding moments where I can get them. But at the same time, I know a visit home means I'm in for a lot of stress.
If I had it my way, I would spend the holidays with my friends. With the people who understand me and have been there for me, even when my family wasn't. With my friends, I can create a comfortable, loving environment where I feel free to be myself. I can be loud, quiet, emotional, generous- whatever I want to be, because I know they'll accept all versions of me. It's an unfortunate reality that I can't say the same about my family, even though it doesn't mean I love them any less.
So, if you find yourself unable to travel home for the holidays, don't despair. You now have a change to make warm memories with your chosen family, and I bet you'll enjoy it more than you expect.