It’s that time of the year again: the days get shorter, shops are playing the christmas charts up and down, markets throughout the town are putting the smell of hot chocolate and sweet candy in the air. Yep, it’s Christmas!
People are talking about a joyful and happy time. Advent is also there to bring us back to ‘the roots’ of Christmas – a chance to meditate and to find your inner calm. I used to be fascinated by the glowup: from a gloomy cold month into a place of laughter and cozyness… but now, that has changed. I used to love Christmas. It was always a win-win for me: presents and good food – plus we got to stay up longer. I became to realize that this ‘magic’ of Christmas isn’t familiar to me anymore, and I think I know why.
During my year abroad I have spent some shitty Christmas celebrations without my family. My one host family I got to spend my first ‘lonely’ Christmas with were freaking me out. I heard from other Au-Pairs that their families were so sweet and celebrated together with them Christmas Eve (which is not that common in stereotypical american families) and I kinda expected my host family to be similar to that. But they were not really approaching my traditions from Germany and only stuck with their celebrations. I had to help them make disgusting cookies late into the night, were I was supposed to celebrate the way I grew up with. So I was already fed up with the type of Christmas they were thinking of. The celebration of the Christmas morning itself was very awkward, as I did not now my host family that well (at this point and time I had basically just spent 2 weeks with them) and I didn’t know how to react and fulfill their expectation of me being a part of their Christmas. Basically it sucked big time for me. I was homesick for the first time and cried a lot while talking to my best friend on video chat. My mother wasn’t a big help either – she just told me that I wanted this year abroad and that she couldn’t help me from over there… (thanks mom, that was really what I wanted to hear).
The other Christmas was during my travel month. While I had a great time traveling to San Francisco, The Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, etc., I felt the emptyness while spending my time alone in those cities. I found myself sitting alone in Little Tokyo (LA) and listening to people singing Christmas songs on the street. It made me realize, that all the people there had someone to celebrate Christmas with, but me. I tried to fill the void of bitter thoughts with food and it helped a little. On Christmas Eve I was alone with not much money left of my travel expenses, so all I had that night were Chicken Nuggets I bought from a fast food store nearby my hostel. That night, I cried a lot while watching Home Alone – alone in my hostel room; curled into the bed sheets.
This years Christmas, I spent at home and after two years of miserable celebrations, I wasn’t looking forward to it. My family isn’t really my ‘happy place’ if you would call it that way. I do not have a good relationship with my fam – especially my big sister (she ignored my existence since I was in middle school… yeah… emotionally scarred forever). Plus my mother is a very hysterical person during the preparation of the festivities: a lot of shouting and getting angry or mad over the smallest things ever + her smartass boyfriend trying to be funny while teasing my little sister (yes, I am a child of divorce… haha..ha). This is, for a person like me, the living hell. I am very quiet and I don’t like to speak a lot when I am with my fam. I feel judged whenever I try to do or say something, so usually I am in my room, doing the best I can by being no one somebody in this hous can get mad at. Especially this year put a lot of pressure on me, because I was not there for the last two years – it was basically like: “Oh, you are here? My bad, I forgot.”
I did not feel welcome in my own house with my own family. So I closed the door to my room and shut myself in. There were too many emotions going on in my brain, but sadness and for some reason the feeling of being abandoned were the two biggest ones in that moment. I didn’t feel like going to the Christmas Mess of my local church (because this year it was held outside, and I injured my leg a week before… so standing in the cold was not an option for me). And from there on, it all went downhill: I didn’t go to open presents with the rest of my fam, I didn’t eat dinner with them – all I did was staying in my room and trying not to exist. I don’t know why, but my mind was just blank for the following days. I did not want to talk to anyone; I wanted to be alone, but not lonely. I can only speak for myself, but I don’t understand the concept of opening gifts and showing a reaction to people. For me, lowering the expectations to zero was always number one on my to do list when getting presents. I do not expect, to be positively surprised. My siblings always ran up to the tree and started opening their present, while I sat down and watched them. I got criticized from my fam by doing so (apparently, I was ruining the vibes). And I do not like to be stared at, while opening presents. I do not think, that I can live up to their expectation, when I don’t react a certain way for them. I am not good with facial expressions and it’s just unnatural and fake for me, to put a smile on my face, when I am not really happy. I am not there to be fake. But if I am with my fam, that’s always how it will be: smile, or you are not a grateful child. And don’t get me wrong; I am grateful for being together with my fam and being able to receive presents (because it is a luxury not everyone can afford), but having to put on a mask every time, I step out of my room, is not something I want to do.
So, to get it short and sweet: this years Christmas wasn’t a delight either. I really hope I can change that for the next year; my mind is wanting some happiness. But I hope that you have had a wonderful Christmas with lots of joy and fun (share the love with me pls).
Merry Christmas everyone and a happy new year!