By: ClaireForClarity, Guest Blogger
I used to dread the holiday season. This year will be different.
Every year as the excitement intensified around Thanksgiving and Christmas I became more unhinged. When I was single and living in the city I spent most holidays alone with a homemade dinner in front of my television set. On one occasion, when I happened to have a relationship, my boyfriend's Mom told him I was not welcome at her dinner table because of the color of my skin. I spent that Christmas with a couple we met earlier that year.
During college years when most students travelled to visit family I stayed on campus in my room working. On the rare occasion when I was invited to visit a friend's family or a distant relative I was present only in body. No one knew how disconnected I felt from the festive activities around me. This went on for years until a few holiday seasons ago.
It was not always like this.
When I was a kid growing up in the Caribbean I embraced and enjoyed the holidays. My father was gone for most of the time during those early years but I had my Mom and younger brother to share wonderful and warm holiday moments together. I remember the excitement we felt as the big day approached. We waited and watched everyday for the mailman to bring money, or a postal ticket, to pick up the parcel my father mailed to us from abroad.
When Christmas arrived my brother and I bounced out of bed to make a beeline for the tree. My Mom's cooking and baking wafted through the house overpowered by the spicy aroma of homemade sorrel. In those days we wished to just go straight to Christmas without any other days in between. The day unraveled slowly as we were forced to attend church before we could play with all the amazing toys and incredible books piled under the tree. Those days are long gone.
By the time I hit my teens my family life was beyond repair and Christmas was just another day off. The ritual and warmth of family was mostly gone because of a broken home. I never recovered from those later years and came to dread the holiday as it approached. By the time I got married I was set in my ways. My husband, who is an ardent fan of the holidays, was shocked when the first Christmas in our new home with our newborn, found me curled up in bed for hours as he toiled over the stove.
This holiday season is different because the recent thanksgiving blackout brought me back full circle to appreciating this time of year. Our electricity went out for almost three full days forcing me to engage. I had to take care of my family instead of shutting myself away. Instead, since my husband was stuck on cooking the chicken the traditional way, I cooked the whole bird on the stove top with a Caribbean flair. When it was done we all sat down and had an amazing meal using our iPhone flashlights to see our plates. I cleaned my refrigerator and sewing box as I taught my daughter how to make a hem.
I have embraced the holidays once again in my life. Finally, I understand what the fuss is about: The holiday season is a time to spend with family and friends, to reflect, share and give of self to those less fortunate.
It feels good.
Happy holidays and a Happy New Year to all!
For many, the holidays are less than holly-jolly. It's important to listen to your heart and respect your feelings: find your own way to celebrate the season in whatever way makes YOU feel happy, connected, and peaceful.
ClaireForClarity is a Mount Holyoke College, Frances Perkins Scholar class of 1999. After she graduated she chose to take care of family and home. Claire manages her daughter’s online home school program, blogs and watches Korean dramas in her spare time.