This post is dedicated to my best friend, Mariel, who always includes me as part of her family for the holidays and who encourages me to break out of my shell every day. <3
Update: Mariel read this and said, "GURL, whatchu talkin' about??? You are my family!"
My parents stopped celebrating holidays when I was eight years old.
We moved to Tampa, FL and my mom somehow found herself quickly indoctrinated into the Jehovah's Witnesses. While she's not one anymore and prefers to practice her faith solo (and seriously dislikes organized religion now), to this day she won't celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas in what we would consider the public and "traditional" ways. No decorations or songs and any mention of the day in question is met with a scoff and lecture.
As a kid, the change was jarring. While Ma kept up the facade of a "birthday party" for my sake, it was nothing more than blowing out some candles on a cake. The first few years I remember being so indignant about it. Why did we have to stop having fun on the holidays just because Ma picked up really weird friends? After a while, I learned to live with it and, eventually, I sort of forgot all about how we used to celebrate the holidays with our huge family in New York. As I got into my early teens, I was able to, for the most part, ignore that everyone else was doing it while I wasn't. Although, there was one time I remember dad feeling bad that I couldn't participate in the holidays and lied to mom so I could hang with my friends for Halloween. I was 11 and it was the last time I went trick-o-treating. I was 15 when I celebrated my first Christmas again, this time with my best friend.
Anyway, there's a point to me rambling about my boring childhood. Some people would assume that knowing what it's like to have something and then have it taken away would make you want and appreciate it more. In this situation, that's true. I love the holiday season and there have been quite a few years after I turned 18 that I escaped to NY to celebrate Christmas with my extended family. But the really unfortunate thing about this entire experience is that I've been left feeling uncertain about what the holidays mean for me and how I want to incorporate them in my life.
Half the time, I feel like a burden; I often try to spend holidays with friends or extended family because I want to feel included. The other half of the time, I tend to forget the holidays are happening and will pass the day feeling like its a normal day and spend the day doing absolutely nothing. I want the holidays to be one of those things I plan and prep and go over the top for no reason other than I can. I tried that for the first time last year (first time living on my own!). I had a Halloween movie night, a Friendsgiving dinner, and a Christmas party. While it wasn't all that it could have been, I enjoyed it and hope to make every year after even more special.
I'm excited that we chose IO's first themed submissions to be Holidays. I think reading about how others celebrate their special days and what their perspectives are on these days will really help me find certainty in building my own holiday traditions.
Have a great holiday season!
Some pictures of me and some of the places I've seen! I'm not a professional photographer so don't expect anything grandiose!