Observations on the Holidays and Healing

Sunday was the solstice, and many of my friends celebrated Yule. Tonight is the last night of Chanukah. Thursday is Christmas. For many, this time of year is all about celebrations, about joy.

But I don’t know how to tap into that. For me, this season is mostly inconvenient.

Some years I’ve left the house to go run an errand or get work done, and realised at the bus stop that the buses were on reduced scheduling for Christmas, and everything is closed anyway. In high school, I lived with a friend’s family, and they had presents and a tree, and I did that with them 2 of the 3 years I lived there. On the other one, they were at Disneyland, and I had work.

One year, my mother and I went to watch Duck Soup and eat bagels with lox at the Multnomah Jewish Community Center. Another year, I hiked to my closest friends’ houses in thigh-high snow to leave presents in their mailboxes. Most years, I just sit at home, feeling vaguely bored and discontent.

Basically, I’m the Grinch.

I don’t hate holidays. Really, I just don’t see the point. Perhaps this is because I’ve lived away from much of my family for the past 12+ years. Perhaps this is the result of my father dying on a holiday. Whatever reason is behind it, I’m pretty much a grump from October to January. If nothing closed, I’d probably keep working and shopping and riding the bus and so on every day, including Christmas.

But this year, it seems even worse. I’ve been stuck in crisis mode for months, where every day feels like a wake. It seems there’s always some fresh new indignity, and pretending at happiness beyond what I feel, in a country that values the life of a dog more than a Black human being, is far more than I can muster.

On the day after the announcement that Mike Brown’s killer would not be indicted, I wore all black to work. I saw other Black people on my campus, and they knew what it was for, who it was for. I had already left the house when I learned of the announcement that Eric Garner’s killer would not be indicted; still, I wore black and maroon, appropriate mourning garb.

We are not so removed from those decisions. And we have since heard non-indictments for Darrien Hunt’s killer, and Dontre Hamilton’s; no doubt there will be more. It seems there always are.

There are people taking this time to be with family, to spend time with loved ones, to enjoy their normal holiday activities. I don’t begrudge them that. I don’t resent them for it. That joy is necessary, to prevent burnout, at the very least. But it’s not where I find healing.

I’m still recovering from my health problems of the last 3 months, and all of this has weighed heavily on me. It’s clear that I need to spend some of the next two weeks doing intense self-care. I need to find healing spaces to cry in, to let go of the grief, and carry the righteous passion for change forward into the new year.

I don’t yet know where that space will be for me. But I hope others find it in family and friends and holiday celebration.

Happy holidays, friends; take care.

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