Why I Will Be Spending the Holidays Alone

I have made a decision that could forever impact my relationship with my family members, and I refuse to feel bad about it. I lived in Texas for three and a half years, which means that there were three years where I did not celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with a lot of my family members. At the time, it was awful. I felt so lonely and I missed everyone so much. Phone calls felt like salt being poured in the wound, and times that used to feel magical turned dark and depressing. 

I live within an hour of all of my family now, but I have made the choice to not spend holidays with anyone this year. Last year spending time with my loved ones felt perfect, but there are HUGE differences between times past and the present. 

First off, I live in America. I think everyone across the globe realizes that the way the coronavirus was handled here was laughable at best, and now we are suffering the consequences as a nation. I feel like our leader isn’t the only one to blame, due to the countless people who actively decide to throw parties, not wear masks, etc, but nonetheless, these people could be umbrellaed under Trump and his negligent and careless response to this deadly global pandemic. Anyways, with spikes starting to occur again, and many questioning if the second wave is here, I do not feel comfortable being indoors, in a smaller space, with lots of people. Especially as an immunocompromised individual I need to take as many precautions as necessary. Now the family members reading this are probably upset at this point do to the fact that I am traveling out of the country in less than a week to attend my best friend’s wedding, however, we pretty much have the resort to ourselves, everything is going to be outside, we all had Covid tests that were sent out to a lab, and we will be wearing our masks. I am also traveling to Salem for a few days after that, where I will be practicing social distancing, I will be getting tested again for Covid, and I will be wearing a mask. 

Now another reason why I won’t be participating in this year’s holiday festivities is because of the election. Most, if not all, of my parents have different beliefs than I do, and that is totally fine! However, I do not like or appreciate the way that some of them have handled it. Now, I have been VERY vocal about where I stand, and there have been times where I have said things when I probably should not have. I have been honest and upfront about my lack of respect for those who follow Trump, and although that may be hurtful, at least I am being honest. And just to clarify, I haven’t lost full respect, but respect has been lost. I know for a fact that they think I am “crazy” for my beliefs, so it couldn’t come as a surprise that I feel that way. Anyways, I don’t feel like being gaslighted or told that I am wrong or told that I am crazy for voting for the side that actually gives a fuck about civil rights, so I am making the choice to avoid those conversations. Also, it is difficult to have a conversation with anyone who refuses to hear where you are coming from. I have found that Trump supporters like to just yell at you when you start speaking about what you believe in or they just insult you. 

Thirdly, I am skipping holidays due to my mental health. Everyone has had to go through depression and anxiety this year, especially with Covid and the election. For those who suffer from clinical mental health issues, this year has been actual hell. I think that the chaos that has been this year has finally caught up to me, and as a result, I have suffered with my mental health. I have been working with the same therapist for over a year now, and I am accepting that I am allowed to create boundaries for myself if I feel like they need to be there. I used to be that person that didn’t prioritize myself and my well-being over others, but I am not that way anymore. If you have kept up with my pieces, you would know that I was kind of reborn earlier this year. I firmly believe that this was my “selfish” year. This was the year where I focused on healing myself, on finding myself, on figuring out what I wanted out of this lifetime. This was the year that I really became confident and happy with who I am. I stopped caring so much about what people thought of me. I stopped dropping my life for others when they are incapable of doing the same for me. I even gave my husband an out, because he was uncomfortable with my newfound freedom and realizations. At the end of the day, twenty-twenty was a terrible year, but it also… wasn’t? I feel found. I found myself. Twenty-twenty was my year of metamorphosis, and I am happy that I can finally see my value. When you respect yourself life becomes so much sweeter. I know that there will always be things that you need to do that you do not want to do, but there are going to be times where you can choose to not participate in something. My stance is that although my personal evolution is something that I am happy and proud of, there are many other factors as to why I need a break. This year has been toxic. This year things have come to light that have swayed me in a different direction. This year has been rough. Like I mentioned before, my mental health has paid the price for that. I refuse to sacrifice myself and my energy just to appease others, so I am taking a break. 

This is a toxic time. This is a time where we must be diligent about protecting ourselves. I have worked tirelessly with my therapist to come to this realization that it is okay to distance myself for a bit from everyone, including those that I love. This is what I need to feel better. This is what I need to get my energy back on track. This is what I need to detox of toxicity out of me. I love my family and my friends, I really do, but I am just starting to love me and take care of me and I need my time. 

The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and happiness and celebration, but if you don’t feel that do you really need to “celebrate?” No. Anyday can be a holiday if you really think about it, and it is okay if you need to isolate for a bit in order to heal and work on yourself. I am sure that a lot of people reading this will be upset by the words that I have written, and that is okay. You are just as entitled to your feelings just as I am entitled to mine. I wish I felt bad about not wanting to celebrate the holidays, but I really don’t. I already feel happy. I already feel like I can breath. I love that I am going to have this time to continue healing myself, and I like the pressure is off and that I am no longer anxious about that. 

Don’t feel guilty about giving yourself time. You deserve to go through your journey and process however you need to do it, and don’t allow anyone to make you feel like you are making a selfish or bad choice. Take care of you, it will be the best thing that you can do.

The Magic of Holidays

This holiday season was the first time in four years that I was able to spend it with all of my family members, and it truly was spectacular. When I was younger I would always correlate joy, happiness, love, and peace to the holiday season, and that was mostly because that meant that I was going to be able to spend quality time with my family. The number of laughs that we all share, the conversations about past stories that kept me completely enthralled, and just spending time with my loved ones always felt so special. The magic of Christmas was never about the gifts for me, it always stemmed from the love that I felt when I had my loved ones around me.

When Stephen and I made the decision that we were going to move down to Dallas we didn’t even think about what the holidays were going to be like. We had a dream to move and we were willing to sacrifice everything to make that happen, but little did we know that the cost of the dream of moving was exorbitant. We knew that leaving home and everyone else behind was going to be sad, but nothing prepared us for how truly soul-crushing and lonely that whole experience was.   

Being away from family was always difficult, but nothing made you realize how alone you truly were until the holidays would come around. I went from having an immense amount of excitement starting at the beginning of October to being filled with sorrow and dread. I am already a severely depressed person, so the thought of being alone during the time of the year that I used to crave just made me even more devastated. I had Stephen and my furchildren, with whom I cherish more than my own life, but sitting alone watching movies while everyone else was enjoying one another always made me sink into another low. Perhaps being alone made me realize as much as I always loved spending the holidays with my family maybe I also took it for granted. I missed the magic, I missed my family, and I missed that wholesome feeling that I felt whenever it was the holiday season. 

When Stephen and I made the decision to move back home to Chicago in March one of the first thoughts I had was “I can’t wait for the holidays!” The thought of being with all of my loved ones and feeling all of that love fueled me with eagerness and excitement. When the beginning of October came around, I started to feel that magic that I always used to feel growing up. When Thanksgiving finally arrived, it felt superb to actually get in the car and drive forty-five minutes to my grandparent’s house. Seeing my dad making mashed potatoes and having my Mema squeeze me the moment she saw me filled my heart with so much happiness. This is what I have been missing. This is what I have been wanting. This is what I have been desperate for. Then it was Christmas time. I have been filled to the brim with that magical feeling for a few months now, and this was the moment I have been waiting for. Christmas Eve and Christmas day was the happiest I have been for a very long time. I was with my parents, my grandparents, my husband, my in-laws, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Hell, people who I didn’t really know. But it was incredible being surrounded by all of these people just celebrating one another. When I was with everyone I found myself laughing again, telling stories about the past that kept me completely captivated and spending quality time with the people who I love so incredibly much. This year, the holidays felt exactly like I remember them feeling before we moved away, and for that, I will always be grateful and appreciate this time of year. 

The magic of the holidays doesn’t stem from the gifts you receive. No. It stems from the love that you feel when you are with the people you adore and cherish.