Christmas is here. When you’re a child, it always seems to take forever for the day to arrive, and as an adult, it’s here before you know it. Some of my most treasured childhood memories are from Christmas time: caroling with our neighborhood friends and drinking hot chocolate, singing in the choir for Christmas mass, baking Christmas cookies with my mom and sisters, the Christmas Eve sleepover in my sister’s room with the Christmas stories read by my parents, putting the tree up with all the decorations and singing carols as a family, Christmas Eve Chinese food with my grandparents, playing instruments for the nursing home residents, the single gift opened the night before Christmas, stringing popcorn and cranberries while watching It’s a Wonderful Life, thank you notes left with the cookies for Santa, piling into my parents’ bed early Christmas morning before we went downstairs together, opening stockings, Grandma’s Christmas brooches, new fleece pajamas, cooking with mom, etc. My parents were always in good moods, my sisters would let me do everything with them, and I was spoiled with love and gifts of the season.
This Christmas season has been surprisingly nice. While nearly all of those traditions have been lost with my youth, there are new ones and some of the same feelings surrounding them. I think that’s what I’ve finally started to learn this holiday season. It’s accurate to say that I could be nicknamed Miss Nostalgia. It’s often a struggle for me for feel like I’ve lost things or aspects of my life I used to cherish; I really miss the way our family was all together and so close when I was a kid. It seems that I’m finally starting to make peace with the fact that all that remains of that exact same thing is the memories. However, the same sorts of feelings still exist and can be recreated on new activities and with different (and the same) people. Rather than being a pure “loss,” things have just evolved and changed, a process I’ve never fared well, but they haven’t all evolved and changed in a bad way. I think this realization will help me find less pain throughout the holidays where it usually surrounds nearly everything about this season for me. Perhaps, ultimately, this will be the most important gift I receive this Christmas.