It is that time of the year again. The day where wrapping paper takes over the room and family gatherings form part of the day’s schedule. The busiest of the holidays: the ever so stressful, exciting and magical time of the year. I wonder, if this is such a demanded day, why and who would even be reading this post?
Have I put you on the spot? Or have I put myself on it? Don’t we have anything to do today or somebody to share it with? Well, that is not particularly the case for me as I already put on my bearded-man hat this morning and sparkled some magic on my son’s and cousins’ life. However, I must admit that my Christmases for the past years have been a mix of nice with a hint of lonely. Therefore, I will use this overly quoted/cliche phrase to describe my current situation: ‘sometimes, you don’t have to be alone to feel alone’ (or something like that).
Loneliness comes in different shapes and forms. Perhaps today you are indeed alone at your house, perhaps your loved one is no longer with you to celebrate, or perhaps you live far away from the family members that have made that day special for you. Well, I don’t know which one applies to you (or not), my dear reader, but the latter rings a bell for me.
I moved to the U.S. from Venezuela almost seven years ago. My country was and still is going through a severe socio-economic crisis. As a result, many Venezuelans have emigrated in hopes of finding better life opportunities. However, some have also left without knowing when they would be able to go back; leaving family and friends behind. Even though I have found a new way to celebrate among other members of the growing migrant Venezuelan community, the experience is not the same when you are far away from the nucleus.
I have not seen my mother and brother in almost three years, I have not seen my best friend in seven, and I spend less that 24 hours with the friends I have gotten the chance to meet up with. This distance becomes even more real during the holidays, which to us, was a time where getting together was the backbone of celebration. Even though I still have dinner with loved ones and put on my Santa beard for the night, celebrating the holidays have lost a magical touch ever since I left my home country.
I iterate, loneliness comes in different shapes and forms. Although I am surrounded by others, I’m still in a profound state of nostalgia. I miss decorating the house with my mom with Gaitas blasted at full volume. I miss making hallacas with the family and yelling at each other out of desperation while, once again, Gaitas resonate all over the house. Wrapping presents, having dinner with friends, going to support my school’s Gaitas festival, going to a friend’s house after the family reunion is over. All of these things embody my former holiday routine and probably the one of your next-door/coworker/classmate Venezuelan.
I must admit, however, that after reading the previous paragraph I realize that I am not only nostalgic for my country and traditions, but also for those youthful years that have progressively transformed into matured ones. I guess the holidays lose a hint of magic as you grow older? I mean, at this point you KNOW that if you do not harass someone or organize it yourself, your stocking will be empty on Christmas day (so… Today?). I come to understand why some of my family members have turned green as the Grinch, they act indifferent about the holidays but put on the biggest smile if having the celebrate it.
T already opened his presents, had his special Christmas (*insert celebrated holiday here*) breakfast and is currently playing with his toys. I must point out that Santa got all the credit and we got none (Carrot is not thrilled about this¹). As he plays, I lay on the corner of the bed with my reindeer pajamas. I fear I am turning green but have started to sport the smile whenever required to. For my younger self and for my son, I write here: Creating new traditions and memories is okay, do it! Loneliness is just an illusion when you have control over it.
Now… I’ll go eat a “Merry XMAS” donut. You can’t get any more festive than this, right?
Happy Holidays, whether you are lonely or content! In the end, today is just another day!
¹Tune in to our ‘Christmas special’ podcast episode this Saturday, December 28 to know why!!!
Photo by ThomasWolter