Yesterday, my daughter turned one. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. 2020 was horrible for a lot of people, and I know that. It was a year we’ll all look back on with tinted memories — of time quarantining with our loved ones or alone, of having to work on the front lines of a virus we feared and didn’t understand or trying to get by without any work, and in many cases, of losing someone we love. I’m stuck in the middle here, because while I was working as a mail carrier through the majority of this pandemic, afraid for my life and that of my family, I also got to see our baby girl grow into an adorable, rampaging, music-loving one-year-old. And then, here in the last quarter of the year, my little family made our first big move from Oregon to Arizona, with tons of help from amazing friends and the faithful hand of God.
Christmas has often felt bittersweet in my lifetime; it always seems like those forgotten hurts resurface during the happiest time of the year. This year is particularly bittersweet though: I’m thankful that my little circle has survived, but I’m pained that so many others didn’t. I’m thankful, incredibly thankful, to be with my family this Christmas, but bummed to be quarantined in our apartment until the new year. Collectively, maybe against our best judgement at this point, humanity is trying to look forward to 2021 and believe grace and better tomorrows are on the horizon.
This month, I’ve found myself thinking back to Christmas 2012. That October my family had moved away from Arizona after living here for seven or eight years. My grandma had passed away after being in our care for five of those Arizona years and both of my older brothers officially resided in Colorado. You can guess where we moved. We had spent many holidays in Colorado over the years since it was where one of my brothers and I were both born and because we all had an affinity for snow. 2012 was a lot like 2020 for my family, just contained to our bubble instead of happening to everyone across the globe. When we arrived in Colorado Springs, our U-Haul ice cold to the touch, there were a lot of unspoken hurts in our family. After we moved into our new townhome and settled, I wouldn’t see my step-dad (the man who raised me alongside my mother) again until Christmas. My eldest brother was facing down his own demons and learning to conquer them, and my other older brother was experiencing his first year at college. My mom was working full time for the first time in half a decade. And I was mostly at home, alone.
I spent my time eating everything I could find, watching enormous amounts of Psych on my friend’s Netflix without his knowledge, and doing online school work. After a hard fought battle to make Honor’s List the year before, in 2012 I would pass with one of the lowest grade point averages of my lifetime. Needless to say, I was a saaaaaad boy!
I wrote a poem on my blog post a long time ago that hinted at the struggles I was feeling during this period in the sort of stormy, dramatic way a poem says anything, but I’ll give it to you straight this time: I thought about killing myself all the time during that winter. Even when I started making new friends and found a girl that I seemed to have mutual interest with, there was always a shadow. I was certain things were just going to get worse. (And, to be honest, they did. 2013 was truly awful, but I’m trying to make a point here, so 2013 goes unmentioned from now on!)
When my family was finally reunited on Christmas 2012, there was this sense that the ground was rumbling, that something had to give. Sitting here now, writing this eight years later, I’m forced to realize that that Christmas set the stage for everything my life would be for the next seven years. Things got worse, got better, and then got really good: I met my wife. We had a daughter. That’s not to say that everything was peachy, but it was all trending up. I have this intense sense that 2020 was the year I took my life back from that kid stuck at home alone, crying and eating and bingeing Psyche, the best show ever made (fight me if you disagree). This year was the year that I, and my wife, told God we were ready to let go and follow his plan, despite all the obstacles blatantly in our path.
This year, that broke everything down to the bare bones of life, might somehow be the year that reoriented our collective perspective. The majority of people all over the world set aside our selfishness, our personal desires, and instead prioritized the wellness of others in 2020. Somehow, despite feeling like everything was tilting toward entropy, I think humanity might have rediscovered its soul this year. And this brings us back to Christmas: It’s going to be different, plain and simple. Whether you’re in quarantine, wearing a mask at a small party, mourning a loss, or laying the eggnog on a bit thicker than normal, give yourself a moment to reflect on what this year could mean for you next year. We all, and I mean all of us, have the potential to take our 2020 4D Experience and turn it into a gift, whether that’s telling your story, sharing your blessings, or supporting someone who had it as bad as you.
Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas, everyone. Here’s to many more.
Or, as they’re saying over in the Titter universe, Merry Crisis!