The holidays are always an interesting time for everyone. For some individuals it’s the most magical time of the year while for others it is not so fun. The holidays can be difficult because they can bring up memories of family members that are no longer living, broken relationships, family members that live far away, family disagreements, etc. In one way or another it seems like all the drama that comes up during this time of year connects back to our family. I find this ironic because it’s during the holidays that we strive (and are encouraged) to spend more quality time with our family. I suppose there’s nothing wrong to work for better relationships with family members, but we shouldn’t wait until this time of year to do so. By this time there’s so much hurt and resentment that it feels like we are just trying to wrap up the holidays, pretend we all love each other, start the new year, and return to “normal.”

My family and I celebrate Christmas but my feelings towards the holidays are unclear. Now that I’m a little older I acknowledge that I am starting to appreciate Christmas more because I’m learning how others celebrate this day and, so I am starting to adopt certain traditions that I appreciate. I’m understanding that the way I celebrated Christmas (the holidays in general) as a child and adolescent were not always positive but I also wouldn’t change them for anything.

There were Christmases that were lonely and some that were too chaotic but nevertheless alcohol was always present during the holidays. It felt like Christmas was not a celebration for Jesus but rather an excuse for the older folks to get unbelievably drunk. Before my teenage years I knew I didn’t like the holiday parties because it would almost guarantee some form of verbal or emotional harassment by the end of the night. I didn’t like going to other family’s holidays parties that we were invited to because I would feel embarrassed by my parent’s drunk behavior. I felt forced to excuse unhealthy behavior from my parent because I was getting presents and therefore shouldn’t have a reason to complain.

There were also years when my family would stay at home on Christmas day and it would just be the five of us together celebrating. These celebrations felt quite lonely. I didn’t grow up with aunts, uncles, or grandparents, essentially no extended family. I didn’t miss any particular family member because I didn’t know them, but as a kid I did wish that they were close to us. My parents and I were undocumented for about 20 years so during that time we couldn’t leave the country. I remember the feelings I had as a kid when my classmates would tell me that they were going to Mexico for Christmas to be with their grandparents. At this age I didn’t understand why we couldn’t go to Mexico. But despite how I felt, not being able to go to Mexico was undoubtedly more difficult for my parents since they did have memories from back home. Christmas celebrations were always on an extreme. Some years it was quiet and some years there were parties for days. As time went by I started to feel indifferent towards Christmas. During my college years I began to pull away from holiday festivities—I started to feel a little like the Grinch.

By no means am I saying that I am not grateful for my family or my holiday traditions because I am. I’m beyond blessed for having such a wonderful and accepting family that opens their home to me, including during the holidays. Now at age 26, and thanks to my involvement with LEVN, I’m relearning what Christmas really is and I’m starting to remove the negative memories that I’ve attached to this beautiful day. I’m learning that Christmas doesn’t have to be about parties or drinking. Christmas is about God, family, and love. Fortunately, my family is growing now, and I have hope that in the future I’ll have the big family that I’ve always wanted and start positive traditions with them.  I am taking time to re-learn about posadas and all the Christmas traditions from Mexico because I want to be able to teach that to my children. I may not have been able to control the things that created the negative memories I’ve attached to this holiday, but it doesn’t mean that I cannot create new positive ones at this point in my life.

 

-Leo

Computers 4 Kids