It’s What You Make It–Gatherings On the Holidays


Sorry it took so long, Gang.  That darn Graduate school education and life got in the way.  But the semester is almost over, so that will not be the case for long. 

As I was working on my fitness, I wondered what to write about next.  So many subjects whirled around in my head, as I have much to share with all who read this.  But then I realized that the Thanksgiving holiday this coming up literally in 2–maybe 3 days and I so I figured I write about that:  the holidays.  I will be lying to you if I told you that I enjoyed the holidays at their fullest in the recent past.  Before I began exercising, I dreaded both Thanksgiving AND Christmas.  For me, it meant stomping through 12 inches of New York State snow, frigid winds burning my face, fogged up glasses after walking into a warm house.  But most of all, it meant me heading home to Springfield, IL for about a week to visit my immediate family.

Let me explain myself–I have nothing against my family nor do I want to avoid them at all cost.  I love my family and I am extremely close to my siblings.  But it seems that–every time I stepped foot into the home I grew up in–I am reminded of the abuse I endured as a child and I had that lingering fear of somehow running into Aunt Jean–the woman who molested me.  Until I began therapy, I never even knew why I would become depressed at around this time of year and blamed on seasonal depression.  Then I would go home for about a week and somehow be reminded of why I left home in the first place:  my father asking me personal questions I do not care to answer (“I don’t understand why you live so far when you could’ve stayed closer?”); my mother being the jokester whose crying on the inside (though she does not like to show the sadness) and me somehow falling into this “Little Girl” role that makes me very uncomfortable effective immediately. 

But most of all, it was the pretending I had trouble with–pretending that everything is copacetic within the family when it really is not the case all year round.  I remember the last time I went home for Christmas when my brother Ted and my Dad’s girlfriend got into it because the latter bragged about how much better her cell phone was.  Ted was not trying to argue with her, but is not one to bite his tongue, either.  Meanwhile, my father sat on the floor between them, dissociating.  And I do not have the time or energy to talk about the many incidents that happened when Grandma Luna was alive and living on her own. 

But despite all this, my holidays were not all negative.  I remember the times when we actually sat down with one another and had dinner without a fight breaking out between feuding family members.  How me and my siblings watched the Madea DVDs in their room or played video games.  Or the times we played Uno or Monopoly and how my brothers would laugh my me because I would deal the cards (or colorful paper bills) with my eyes glued to the television.  I was able to go home last year and actually be present for the Christmas holiday because I spend time with my siblings and had enough money to buy presents this time around.  I even had the opportunity to meet my baby niece Tiana for the first time (she was 4 months old at the time–she’s so precious!) and to see my other niece, Ted’s little girl Nia.

Since I am not able to go home this year, I am spending the holidays here in Buffalo with friends I made in the area.  For Thanksgiving, I am having dinner with a classmate, her girlfriend and another friend of hers.  In fact, when I was living in Rochester I celebrated Thanksgiving with many friends whom I consider family.  So with that being said, I learned this much:  the holiday season is what I make it.  Thanksgiving and Christmas does not have to be about dreading and fearing my past or wanting to shut the door on it, but about being around family (biological or created) that care about my well-being and vice versa. The holidays is about bringing my authentic self and not being someone else in order to keep the chaotic peace.  I can and have created my own traditions and will continue to do so.  That’s the power of living a better life–survivor or not.  We have choices today.  Nice, isn’t it?

Happy Thanksgiving :o)

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