Merry Christmas, all. Well, it’s that time of year again. Winter has arrived in half of the world, and most of it is putting out decorations and preparing for the holidays. I’m going to put it bluntly: Christmas means nothing to me this year. Last Christmas I tried, and it felt so faked and strange, that I don’t even want to try this year. I know what you’re thinking: “What a humbug! Christmas is awesome!” or something like that. Well, everyone has their reasons. And in my heart, I’m still a huge fan of Christmas. I love the atmosphere, and I love the meaning behind the traditions. But that is precisely why Christmas means nothing to me this year: I am in a country that obviously lacks Christmas atmosphere, and all of the lovely traditions are meaningless in a place that does not observe them.
And it goes even deeper than that with me. Christmas is all about spending time with your family, about exchanging gifts and love and warmth, eating together, singing together… When I was a child, our Christmases were awesome. A middle-class American family living in a beautiful suburb in Michigan where it snowed at least a foot every year–we lacked nothing. Perhaps our parents went a little over-the-top with gifts a couple of years, but it was always so warm and happy that the excess seemed acceptable. And the lengths our parents went to that we would believe in Santa: my dad once made sooty boot-prints leading from the chimney to the tree, and always ate the cookies and milk we left for him. After the mystery was dispelled, we still left things for “Santa” to preserve the tradition, but they were more suited to “Santa’s” taste. Our house was decorated to the nines, and there was always Christmas music playing somewhere.
We were brought up Catholic, so going to midnight Mass was a part of our Christmas tradition. I stopped believing in God a while back, but at the end I still used to go to Mass with my family, mostly just for the singing, and to feel the passion of a church full of people brimming with belief that that day was the birthday of Christ. I envy people with religion; to have faith in something gives a person a strength that is not easily found anywhere else.
But things are different for me now. I’m not going to drone on and on with my sob-story, but my parents are divorced now, each with new partners that came with their own families. Everyone is all grown up, and we’re scattered around the world. Perhaps it’s because all of this is like freshly dug-up dirt that hasn’t had time to settle, fresh dirt with seeds planted in it that haven’t come to fruition that our Christmases will be celebrated apart. No one’s decided where to gather, and no one is leading the charge.
So this Christmas is a Christmas in transition. Maybe someday we’ll have Christmas together again, maybe someday Christmas will mean something to me again. But for now Christmas is just a word, and a day when I will be looking on enviously as beautifully whole families share their holiday together, and dreaming of the day when that joy will be mine again.