For the last week, people have been asking me about my Christmas plans. And I unenthusiastically tell them I’m spending Christmas with my parents. The way they react tells me that something is wrong with my answer in their eyes. It’s not that I’m not excited to spend time with my parents–that’s not it.
Usually around this time, people find out I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas and I never had a good explanation why. I just laugh along that I’m a grinch and change the subject.
The night before I left for Arizona, I was thinking about the last few Christmases I’ve had and realized I haven’t had the same Christmas in over 5 years, which I think attributes to my awful mood of disliking Christmas.
Living in Illinois, we never lived close to my extended family, so it was usually just spent the 4 of us around a tree with presents, snow, Christmas breakfast with the neighbors, and the beginning of the local high school basketball tournament.
A few years ago, we decided to spend Christmas in Colorado with our extended family. For a few days, we would go up into the mountains and ski/snowboard, then head to Colorado Springs and celebrate with my aunt, uncle, and grandmother. Around this time, my parents moved to Florida. We had lived in Florida for a time growing up, but I was too young to remember what Christmas felt like in 60 degree weather. I never understood how people in warm weather places could celebrate Christmas, as I was most accustomed to cold weather that accompanies the holiday season. And then last year, my parents moved to Arizona, where it’s even hotter and still don’t understand Christmas in the desert.
To be honest, I’ve always felt depressed around the holidays. As I was finishing packing for my trip, I think I stumbled on something.
Christmas hasn’t felt the same since I graduated college and I think it’s because I haven’t had my home to come to. Not a home, my home.
To be clear, I’ve made my home wherever I have lived–it’s a skill I learned as a kid with all the moving my family did (and I look at this as a positive thing!). But the house my parents live in, isn’t my home, rather it’s their home. I don’t have my own room, I don’t have the memories of the bathroom where I lost my first tooth, or where I punched a hole in my door because my brother locked himself in my room, or the backyard where we would play for hours on end, or the basement where I had a dance party for my 18th birthday. I realized how much those things mean to me. And as silly as it is, I never had that closure. My parents moved from Illinois to Florida without me having the chance to say goodbye to the house I spent half of high school and college summers in. Maybe this is another unspoken part of adulthood I’m having to figure out.
When I go “home,” everything is unfamiliar. The roads, the weather, the people. The only thing about home is my parents, my brother and his wife, and our family cat, Rocket.
I think subconsciously, my heart has known this for some time. Though there is something familiar about visiting family in Colorado, it’s not MY home—it’s just familiar.
Being completely honest, the holidays-especially Christmas is really hard for me. It reminds me how single I am, how no one knows me except through the stories from my parents or people I know from college. There are no familiar smells, the furniture continues to change and somehow I’m supposed to be excited about this unfamiliarity.
The other side of the coin is that this is time I get to spend with my family! We make due with what we have and we try to spend as much together as possible. There’s definitely a sense of jealously, when I see friends that go home and still have their childhood bedroom–and I know there’s an entire other side to that coin, but I think there’s comfort in coming home as an adult and there being things that are the same as they’ve always been.
I struggle with this idea of why nothing feels comfortable to me as of late. I go back and forth between feeling restless and leaving a place or feeling comfortable and staying put.
As I sit in the airport and see families boarding planes to visit their families, I wonder what their stories are—if they’re like me, going to a place called home that’s really not home.
I was talking about this with a friend recently, and I stated how maybe it’s just that I need to be okay with this not being okay. That this is a stage of my life, where I can make home what it is, but it just might not feel complete for awhile.