The Year of Realization and Simple Joys

Oh, Christmastime.

The warmth it brings is practically intoxicating. It comes with the smell of roasting chestnuts, stolen kisses under the mistletoe, and wrapping paper covering the floor. We all remember that time Dad threw his back out putting together Barbie’s dream house, or when Mom baked the green bean casserole to a midnight-hued crisp.

Over the years, however, the holidays have gotten less special. When you think about it now, you seem to remember less garland, not as much Christmas cheer, your family’s esteemed, yet dwindling, musical twinkle lights being thrown in the trash. If you’re like me, you begin to feel the actual pressure of this time of year as you grow older.

Of all the celebrations I remember, this is the one that hurts my heart. Not because of less presents, more stress, and that vast abyss called The Unknown.

Because of all the hatred this world feels for people we don’t even know.

Because of growing up in a place that doesn’t feel safe anymore.

December 14th brought me to my knees and opened my eyes. You never think it can happen to a small community like your own, quiet, almost frozen in time.

That day, as my mom picked me up from school, I looked across the parking lot at the elementary school. I thought of my friends’ younger siblings who attend that school, of all the teachers who taught me that still work there.

There were tears. Buckets-full. Right now, as I type this on the morning of Christmas Eve, I’m being yanked to the floor by awareness.

Life is more than presents. It’s more than getting recognition for a piece you wrote. It’s more than watching drivers roughing each other up and trading paint.

It’s more than all of that combined.

It’s about the simple joys. Seeing your little cousins laugh. Falling in love for the first time. Hugging your parents when comfort is needed. Giving someone a reason to smile.

If anything, life is about non-materialistic gifts, the ones you can feel.

Also, with tragedy comes self-evaluation. With that came the truth: I don’t say, “Thank you” as often as I should.

So, thank you.

To my parents, who do everything for me.

To every person who puts their life on the line to defend this country.

To those who inspire me every single day.

To the people that give me strength.

To you, the reader, for reading this random blurb.

Thank you for following me, although I have no idea what I’m wandering toward.

Overall, 2012 has been a year of discovery. From learning how twisted the world can be, to seeing how fragile life is, I have gained knowledge that’s more precious than any amount of fame or credit.

I aim to learn twice as much from 2013, and I hope that’s your goal, too.

Above all, keep the families affected by 2012’s tragedies in your hearts and prayers.

Because, as you smell burnt casserole and hear your father cry out as he puts the heating pad on his back, remember that you have your family with you.

Never take that blessing for granted. You’ll regret it as soon as it’s all gone.

I wish all of you Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas.

~Kristen

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