My first Christmas and New Year’s in the United States found me by myself, seeking companionship in the only place that felt right: the beach. Despite being alone, I didn’t feel lonely. There were hundreds of people flocking to the beach, especially on New Year’s Eve, many dressed in white, eagerly awaiting the fireworks. I’m not a fan of fireworks, but the significant realization was that I didn’t feel lonely despite being alone. As I grow older, I find more value in being surrounded by others, yet I cherish my little bubble where I don’t need to speak or act in certain ways. I enjoy sitting in a coffee shop, working for hours, going to the movies alone, or having dinner by myself. Fortunately, that’s not always the case.
We humans are social beings, even though we often label and rationalize everything. Fundamentally, we are nurtured, cared for, and taught social cues from a place of love. The hope is that everyone grows up in such an environment.
As adults, we become experts at building walls of all sizes and materials, but we’re not as adept at creating windows to connect with the world outside. A pandemic certainly doesn’t make exercising the muscle of connection any easier.
In my experience, I know a lot of people from various countries, or rather, many people know me, even if I don’t know them in return. I’m social by nature, but throughout my life, I’ve felt both alone and lonely, sometimes simultaneously.
Holidays aren’t always the happiest times for me. I catch myself waiting for greetings from certain people, mentally noting those who didn’t wish me a Merry Christmas, even though, truthfully, I’m not too bothered by it. I believe in the spirituality behind Christmas, based on my beliefs and experiences, but I don’t gauge my happiness on whether I’m with or without people.
This Christmas, it was just me and my boyfriend, sharing stories of our past celebrations and how things change over time. I acknowledge that the excitement of sitting at a table with my mom and grandma, preparing plates of sweets, walnuts, and almonds, is a thing of the past. They’re not here anymore, but the almonds and sweets still are. Life might bring opportunities in the future to be surrounded by family again, perhaps with younger generations decorating Christmas trees or sharing a big meal and making wishes. But for now, that’s not my reality. It’s neither good nor bad. It simply is.
This doesn’t lessen my appreciation for family, friends, and the spirit of the holidays. I just recognize that at this stage in my life, things are different. The world is different. And that’s okay.
For anyone out there feeling the holiday blues, you’re not alone. It’s natural. We’re social beings, and the lack of support can affect us. For those bursting with holiday excitement, revel in it, cherish it – there’s nothing more precious than togetherness.