Christmas Through a Child's Eyes
Well, if you asked me that very same question a few years ago, my answer would have been completely different to what it is today. I liked to think that I appreciated everything enough, and yet now I know that I never really grasped the real meaning of Christmas. Nor did I know what it truly meant for me, up until a few years ago.
Let me tell you a short story, a true one this time. I grew up as an only child, which meant that I could get basically anything I wanted for Christmas. Of course, that time we didn't have too much money, so I had to be reasonable, but whenever I wanted a new toy or a book, all I had to do was ask. And because I got it so easily, I took it for granted. Of course, there is another part to the story. There was another reason why I didn't feel like it was Christmas time for me. Every present had its 'prize'. They came easily, true. But somehow I always felt like I had to do something in return. And what good is a present, if it is given with an ulterior motive, right?
Every Christmas, I 'had' to sit with my parents and my aunt for hours, playing games I didn't understand, when all I wanted to do is read my new book or play with my new toy, the one I chose. Yes, I would have rather retreated into my own little world, because that was all I knew. I thought that was what I wanted. Well, we always want what we can't have, right? So, I ended up spending endless hours arguing, crying, and hurting those that would have done anything to make my Christmas special.
Same Old, Same Old
I do sound like I was a spoiled little brat, don't I? Looking back now, I probably was. I didn't mean to, I just didn't understand why I got what I wanted, just to be taken away suddenly, without warning. Try telling a child that their dreams just came true, but they have to wait a little longer for them anyway. And why? Because family meals and games were a must, and obligation. Because that's how we have done it for years, why change now? What went on behind closed doors never mattered. We just played pretend for a few days each year, acting as if everything was perfect. Family, the word always makes me wonder why it didn't work out for us. Or is it tradition that every family reunion means that someone will get hurt?
Christmas should be about giving, not receiving. And for a long time, for me, that meant physical presents. Why? Because what it should have been about was missing. Oh, trust me, we didn't have to go to the neighbors for a 'good' argument, no. Christmas was just another suffocating day for us all, one that was filled with obligations and musts. And I hated every minute of it. Until one day I couldn't be there.
What I've Lost... And What I've Found
It happened nearly six years ago, when I came to England. I was so happy that I got away from my old life, that I didn't even realize I left just before Christmas. Or maybe unconsciously I knew that at least I won't have to do anything, I will be free, doing whatever I want. If I wish, I could spend Christmas Eve alone, reading a new book, or with friends, or whomever. That first year was strange, but I was almost fine. But by the second time, I knew that the very thing I used to despise was slowly creeping up on me. By then, I hadn't seen my parents for a year. I was working day and night, just to earn enough money to survive. Going home wasn't even an option. I didn't even know if they wanted me after so much time, after all that happened.
I think I don't have to tell you how emotional that third Christmas was, when I finally walked through the door. Yes, I think that was my first proper Christmas. Because I finally realized what truly mattered: love. I could finally feel what I haven't felt in my entire life. I finally knew that miracles do happen this time of the year. I went home a changed person, a better version of myself. If you ask me today, I wish I never met the 'old' me. But then again, if I didn't act the way I did, if I didn't come to a different country to start a new life, then my parents would probably still be arguing over the Christmas decorations or who should buy the presents this year.
Instead, they are living their lives separately (as they should have for the past ten years), both being happy in their own way. Oh, and guess what? Two years ago my father gave me the best Christmas present I have been wishing for since I was a little kid. No, it wasn't a pony or a barbie doll. Not even money. This time of the year is about love, yes, but also about getting rid of what doesn't work anymore, letting go, and embracing new opportunities. And what was that present, the one I always knew I couldn't live without, but I also knew I wasn't going to have it, no matter what?
The Ultimate Present
Siblings. It was always easier to just hide behind the wall I had built for myself. It was safe there, where nothing ever happened. Nothing could. I had to let it all go, I had to watch those walls crumble to pieces and fall at my feet, before I could get the one thing that made me ignore all the other presents. Hell, it made me ignore everything else, too. I don't think that until that moment I was able to love unconditionally. But two years ago, on Christmas Eve, I met my dad's love, and her daughter and son. We have been inseparable ever since. As if it was always meant to be.
I finally learned that Christmas isn't about obligations, but about wanting to do those things that once felt compulsory. They felt like an obligation, because my heart wasn't in them. Now that I know all this, my Christmas wish list is fairly short, but all the more important. To start with, I want my Christmas (and everyone else's, who reads this post) to be filled with love. And that includes all kinds of love. Yes, even self-love. No, especially self-love. Apart from that, nothing much really. Just the ability to let go of what isn't right, and to welcome the New Year and all its possibilities with open arms - and an open heart.
Because, miracles do happen. And not only at Christmas. So, take the holiday spirit with you when you travel, even when you visit someone you don't like, or someone who you 'have' to see out of obligation. You never know if you will become that person's miracle or they will become yours. Remember one thing: most people measure you nowadays by the type of car you drive, or the amount of money you spend on the presents you buy for others. My wish for you is that you shall be measured by the amount of love you give out instead. Oh, and one more thing: it's never too late to change and accept that you were wrong. Trust me, I never knew true happiness before I did the same.
Merry Christmas my lovely readers,