Every year on Christmas eve, despite the chaos that surrounded us, my family would get together around the tree and read "How The Grinch Stole Christmas." My grumpy dad, an expert story teller, would get all us kids together and read the story in all different kinds of voices.
When I was younger I always looked forward to this tradition, because it felt unique to us. We never had big family gatherings because most of our relatives are spread all over the country, but we always felt good about the holidays.
No matter what happened that year, Christmas was always beautiful. We put everything aside to join together and appreciate each other for all of our flaws and misgivings.
There were never any fancy parties, or boozy dinners, no big outings or trips to Hawaii. But that didn't matter. Nothing mattered except watching movies together on Christmas Eve, waking up early and running down the stairs, dad with his camera, filming every second. All three of us siblings got along on Christmas and appreciated each other.
Of course, my mom would cry, because she knew that having all of her kids in one place wouldn't last forever. Well, that time has come. One of the kids is missing, and go figure...it's me.
Christmas is usually a time where people feel the most included. Their friends and family all gather around some sort of festive tree, they sing carols, they eat great food and talk about their year.
I used to hear tales from my friends of these extravagant family gatherings and elaborate gifts, and you know, it just sounded like a lot of work.
I always enjoyed my little family. It was just us, but we always found a way to make it feel perfect.
Over 2,000 miles away from Ohio, where my mother is working tirelessly at her retail job, and my family is wrapping presents, I'm sitting in a kitchen, with a coffee cup to my right and some crumpled up papers to my left. It's been a long, hard year. I'm tired, pretty much all the time, but I'm thankful for it. That means I'm getting my work done, and my life is starting to shape up.
I've hit some bumps in the long road I've been on, but for some reason each one feels spectacular. One more hurdle, one more challenge. Hopefully something will come of the work and the sacrifices. I'm thankful for all the opportunities I've had, but as always, contentment is never enough
I've been away from my family and friends for 7 months. Which, may not seem like a long time, but really feels like an eternity. Humans crave structure, normalcy. I've never been one for that, but now that it's wavering...I'm starting to notice what I've missed.
Christmas Eve brings with it rain and wind, because for some reason California just can't get over the fact that I decided to ruin it's beautiful landscapes with my presence.
I'm considering going out to buy a big bottle of the stiffest Bourbon there is: Wild Turkey, and getting twisted on my own tonight, because nothing says Christmas like a drunken stupor. Hopefully tomorrow will bring some new hope, as I venture to see some family out in the wilds of Sacramento. Hey, what else can you do?
Doom and gloom don't usually accompany "the most wonderful time of the year" but for some reason I can't shake it. I'm not a positive person, but I'm trying right? That's all we can do, try. Although, I may have made some great strides this year, you can't really change a person's base instincts.
I'm hoping I can catch some of the Christmas eve festivities on FaceTime if I can give myself a break for 15 minutes. It seems that the world doesn't stop, not even for Old Saint Nick.
The real truth, is that the Holiday season brings up a lot of feelings, whether they're good or bad, isn't the point. We think about or families, and the time we may have missed with them. We regret long hours and cancelling plans. But still, we strive for more, each year, to become something bigger than ourselves, to make the next year, the next Christmas better than the last.
As I sit here, across the country, I can see them, my family all gathered by the tree, reading that Dr.Seuss tale about how the Grinch's heart grew three sizes. The electric fireplace is crackling. My cat, mewing and bopping ornaments off the tree. It's Christmas Eve, and though the miles make everything feel distant and cold, there's got to be some warmth somewhere.
For all who are separated, alone or transplanted on Christmas Eve, know that the season is almost over. You're never farther away than you feel right now. Things will be okay. Pour yourself some stiff eggnog, reminisce, and try to focus on the grander plans life may have in store, for the new year is coming, and it's time to build. To start again.