Christmas Away from Home

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Those of you who know me will know that I love Christmas. I love everything about Christmas, from the sappy music, the big tree filled with ornaments, to the lights on every street corner. Christmas in my family is a huge deal, filled with traditions and memories which make every year feel like a beautiful snapshot in time.

Family pictures with Santa are always a must

This year will be my first year away from home during Christmas in my entire 23 years of existence because I'm staying in London during the holidays. It's not been easy to realise that I won't spend Christmas eve frantically wrapping presents with my mom while we watch Christmas Vacation. I won't be reading Twas the Night Before Christmas to my younger brothers. I won't wake up Christmas morning to a full stocking, excited gift opening, and an epic Christmas breakfast.

I guess it all comes back to my family. I'm really close to my family- I always have been. I know a lot of people my age don't really get along with their parents or feel obligated to spend some time with them at Chrismas, but for me it's the exact opposite. It's a weird day if I haven't talked to my mom at least once; even if it's just a simple text and not a Facetime or sitting down for dinner. I talk to my family about every detail of my life, they give me advice and support me, and Christmas is an amalgamation of how close we are and all the traditions we've built for each other.

Christmas has also taken on a special meaning for me since my dad passed away three years ago. My dad loved Christmas, and he was just as much part of all of these traditions as my mom and brothers. Traditions we built together as a family before he got sick, and traditions we honour him through by continuing on. It feels weird to not be celebrating the way I always did with my dad, the way we always did as a family. I remember one Christmas he actually used white cleaning powder along the bottom of his work boots and walked around our living room from the fireplace so it looked like Santa had been walking around. I remember driving up to Gatlinburg every year and singing The 12 Days of Christmas on repeat until we could do the entire song without messing up. I'll never forget the year he bought himself the 50th Anniversary Edition Monopoly board, one of the only times I remember my parents buying something for themselves. We still use that board every time we play. 

On the other hand, this feels like it's part of growing up. I know that I'm reaching an age where it's normal to branch out and do my own thing and that it doesn't mean I love my family any less. I recently had a thought where I realised that my own mom used to spend every Christmas morning with my grandparents, but she's obviously spent it with us since I can remember. It's a normal part of becoming an adult- branching out from your parents. No one ever tells you that how hard that is though. When you're in school, all you can think about is getting away from your parents and living your own life, but as soon as you move out and have a job and bills and relationships all on your own, you can start to miss all the things that are comfortable to you. Everyone tells you it's hard to be a grown up, but I guess I didn't listen. On some level, I'm not ready to let go of some things, and Christmas is definitely one of those comfortable traditions that I'm clinging onto.

As much as I hate being away from my family, I realise there are new traditions I can build for myself. My life is my own to make of it what I want, so I'm going to try my damnedest to make it interesting. I think some traditions I'm incorporating here in London include- Christmas crackers (which we don't have in America, but I love the paper crowns), drinking mulled wine and walking around the fair, and buying myself a few choice presents just because I can. I've also built myself the ultimate Christmas Jams playlist on Spotify, and I love riding on buses and listening to it while I look out at all the lights on the London streets.

Making this Christmas fun with matching PJ's
I knew Christmas was going to be hard this year without my family, but I never expected myself to be so caught up in the traditions I'm missing out on. I'm excited about my future, and I know that as I grow older I'll build some of my own traditions, but for right now I'm going to reminisce about our past Christmases and cherish the years I have left in the comfort of my traditions. 

Since I am in London for Christmas, I've made a vlog of some of the Christmasy things I've done in the city. Click below to watch, and have Happy Holidays!

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