So I decided to do a holiday-themed post.
This shouldn’t be a big deal. In the grand scheme of things, it is not particularly world-ending. My brother’s family was spending Christmas with his in-laws, and they thought it was a good idea to just save the money. Their kids still exchanged presents and they all still wanted to exchange gifts with me. It made sense. It shouldn’t have been a big deal.
But it was.
Let me explain why. Holidays are hard for many people. For single people, it can be a harsh reminder that they are alone. My siblings decision to forgo gifts had absolutely nothing to do with me. And yet, it had everything to do with me.
I love Christmas. I love the decorations, the food, the smells, the traditions, the family
time. I love picking out presents for the people I love and getting to see the expression of happiness when they open it. Not gonna lie, I also enjoy getting gifts from people as well.
But as the years have gone by, our traditions have started to change. It’s not the same as it used to be. Our family is getting larger and it’s getting harder to have presents for everyone. It takes time (and money) to open all those gifts. We have to adjust to this new era.
My siblings have their own individual families now. They are making their own new traditions. If we stopped having Christmas together as a whole family, they would be fine. They would have Christmas morning with their children and then come to Grandma’s another day. That’s how it always was when I was growing up. No big deal right?
But where does this leave me? I’m the outsider.
When I found out about the changes this year, the first thing that struck me was fear. They aren’t exchanging gifts this year, my mind said to me. And nobody told me. Next thing you know, they will just want to draw names and only buy one gift. So then I’d only have one person to buy a Christmas present for? And then after that, they won’t want to get together on Christmas morning, they will want to do it another day or at the very least, just Christmas night. So every year, I will wake up alone on Christmas morning, faced with no presents under the Christmas tree and the sad reminder that I AM ALONE.
And that is terrifying.
Never mind the fact that my brain KNOWS that this would not happen to me. I know there is no way on this planet that my sister would not welcome me into her home on Christmas morning no matter how old we get. That gripping fear still pops up whenever things change (or threaten to change).
This was a hard year for me. For the first time, I live too far from my family to just come over. I have to plan my visit and someone has to host me. I’m a burden. (I know they don’t look at it that way, but again, we’re talking about feelings, not reality). I missed doing holiday things with them because I wasn’t there.
Maybe a part of me is afraid that some day they won’t want me to be there any more. Another part of me feels left behind. I want to cling to the way things used to be because I don’t have any one with whom to make new traditions. While my siblings are trying to figure out how to manage the holidays with all their kids and going to different families, I am still the same. Still just me, nothing to figure out, nothing to change, no kids or spouse, just me.
And it’s hard. Really hard.
And it's okay that it's hard. But the thing is, I can't just leave it there. I don't get to say, oh man, this is so hard, woe is me. I had a moment of terror - but I have to look it in the eye and say, no, that's not the truth and I will not let it control me. The fact that it’s hard doesn’t mean I can hide away and not face the changes as they come. It doesn’t mean that I get to let it ruin what I do have.
It's okay to be afraid. There is no bravery without fear. Because being brave is not the absence of fear, but the fact that you keep going despite your fear.
Here's to being brave. And buying Christmas presents for my nephew and nieces for as long as I can.