For most of us, the holidays are filled with times of joy, leisure, and family. We relax in our warm, cozy houses surrounded by piles of presents under the tree. This December, as my family and I crowd around the dinner table for a feast of kings, our biggest worry is how we are going to lose the weight from such a tremendous meal.
We live in a shadow of the unknown: all around us, chaos, brutality, and violence rage. Danger lurks behind doors like the monster in the closet, and yet, we never actually pay attention to it if it doesn’t affect us. We live our lives, oblivious to the unpredictable calamities that constantly strike those unfortunate others. Although it constantly takes place around us, we don’t make any direct actions to prevent it from occurring again. People, like my family and I, live in a protected bubble, unaffected by the cruel hardships of life. Within this unsuspecting confidence lies the assumption that tragedy won’t strike—not to us. The missing girl on the television could never be you, your friend, or your sister. Unfortunately, not everyone is financially stable or physically able to to live inside this bubble. Unfortunately, the holidays aren’t always happy.
Last December, my Uncle passed away. My cousins dad—the man I had seen every other day I went to play at their house—had died. I had never actually had anyone so close to family pass before and when I was told the news, I didn’t know how to react. The brutal fact that that the annual Braehmer Christmas would be missing one member was simply unfathomable to me.
This December, I opened my eyes a little. The day after Christmas, I was sadly informed that a family friend had attempted suicide. After being around such a fun-loving, happy spirit, I wondered where all o those thoughts and troubles sprang from. Where did the self-hate stem from? I wanted to know how this outgoing person believed that the world would be better by taking herself out of it. The holidays are supposed to be about joy and giving. Yet, perhaps some may feel like a disappointment if their joy is running low or the only gift they can offer is a the presence and a hug.
Even after January first, when the start of a New Year is supposed to bring hope, happiness, and health, tragedy struck the community of Petaluma. When a former Casa Grande student went missing from Tahoe, I just couldn’t stop thinking about her: where was she, who was she, who her parents were, how were they feeling. If I was upset when the news hit the papers, I couldn’t imagine how her loved ones would cope. If I saw a flyer downtown with a picture of her smiling, I remembered the vague memory of her painting in art class my freshman year. Although I barely knew her, I will always remember her.
This holiday season, I opened my eyes a little bit wider and saw life at its worst. The holidays aren’t always happy. Though struggle, loss, and poverty persist throughout the pear, nothing hurts more than adversity during “the most wonderful time of the year.” So the question is posed: what will you do in 2013? Will you hug your parents more, will you say please and thank you, will you listen more than you speak? Forget those New Years resolutions that you never keep, and make a promise that you can keep. For my Uncle, Alyssa, and everyone struggling during the holiday season, I promise to be thankful for what I have and bless those who have less.