Christmas this year was so different–in ways I wouldn’t have expected. I remember a year ago joking with Ivan that maybe by next year we would be together for Christmas and as life would have it, here we are. But being with him means I was far from my family. I missed out on my Mom’s Christmas morning brunch, and having a cup of coffee with my Dad. I missed the morning hugs and snuggles with my dogs while waiting around for forever while my sister sleeps in. I missed seeing that legless Donald Duck ornament and the mini Christmas village decorations. I missed out on a lot, and I’m not going to downplay it, I woke up with a weight of sadness on me. It just didn’t feel like Christmas. Ivan told me his nonna (grandma) put anise liqueur in her coffee, so I took that as step #1 to italianizing my festivities. (This year’s sweets theme was #alltheanise)
Of course, as soon as Italian Christmas started I cheered right up (it could have been the abundance of wine but who knows). Heated discussions about the housing market in Florence and the pros and cons of renting vs buying an apartment turned to lessons in how to properly use a nutcracker, and finally dissolved into raucous laughter over a video call to my family in North Carolina. I can’t tell you what all the different dishes we ate were or how Angela even made it happen in that miniature kitchen. We feasted and laughed and opened presents picked and wrapped with love. I’ve grown so affectionate to them and on Christmas it sank in that now I am a part of their family. We’ll figure out ways to see my family more and to bring everyone together again as soon as possible. In the meantime, there is so much to be thankful for and to celebrate.
Whatever you’re feeling around the holidays, be it homesickness, loneliness, depression, joy, grief, or stress, I hope we can all take a pause from everything and everyone you find yourself with and just breathe. I was reminded of this passage from Mitch Albom’s Tuesday’s with Morrie:
If you hold back on the emotions-if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them- you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely.
Don’t get hung up on what will happen. Stop, breathe, feel what you’re feeling fully, and then quietly return to the present moment. Life is short, sweet friends. May you have peace and joy.