For most of my life, I have been envious of other people’s families during Christmas. Don’t get me wrong…even as dysfunctional as it is, I love my family, but there always felt like there was something missing. I think it was a combination of having an alcoholic father and an incredibly small family. Growing up, Christmas was always just my mom and dad, my younger sister and myself. We had no relatives who lived anywhere near us and I have a grand total of three cousins spread across the country. Many of my friends had big families, with their aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. all living nearby. Their holiday family gatherings seemed so lively and festive and I always wished I had that, too.
Now in my 30s, most of my friends have children. I think for most families, many holidays really revolve around children…Easter bunny egg hunts, Trick or Treating on Halloween, Santa pictures for Christmas, etc. Even though I was pretty sure I was not going to have kids of my own, I still felt a sadness when I would see all the fun things other families did for the holidays. My small family of four had our traditions, but they were very low key, quiet and often stressful based on whether or not my dad would be drunk.
My sister had a baby girl this year who turned seven months old right before Christmas. My niece is the sweetest, most adorable, happiest baby in the world (*slight bias!) This year, the holidays were ALL about her…her first Halloween, where we all made matching costumes…her first Thanksgiving, when she had her very first bite of “real” food…and of course, her first Christmas. It was awesome- my favorite Christmas ever! This is the first year I didn’t look through my Facebook feed feeling that twinge of longing for what other people were doing with their families. That actually just occurred to me for the first time as I am writing this!