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The holidays have always been a really interesting time of year for me. When I was younger it was a lot more difficult, as I would switch between staying with my mom and dad, not to mention my anxiety around getting gifts and uncomfortable family gatherings. The past few years, however, my feelings surrounding the holidays have changed completely. Now I spend them with family I love and enjoy seeing, and have grown to treasure the warmth and coziness the season brings me. COVID has definitely had an impact on the time, however, both in my personal life and the holiday atmosphere for everyone.
While we are incredibly lucky that we didn’t lose anyone, my family has been forever changed by COVID. My mother and grandmother (and likely my sister and I) all had it. But the hard part came later; when my mom wasn’t getting better after, we found out that she has “Long COVID”. In a brief summary, the virus impacted her body long term and she has chest and heart problems, as well as autoimmune conditions. This has been really difficult on myself and my family, especially around the holidays. I never really understood the significance of people wishing good health on others; of course you want people to be happy and healthy, but it never seemed like something that I would need to wish for. That’s changed now. I can’t describe how it feels to see someone you love struggling with sickness and not being able to do anything about it; all of the joy of the holiday season was dulled for me last year. We were able to go on vacation for winter break, which I hoped would lighten everyone’s spirits. But sickness doesn’t go away for vacations. Seeing my mom be unable to do things she previously loved, like sunbathing and just relaxing, and the aftermath of how bad she felt after destroyed me. Witnessing her struggle along with my other family’s reactions to it (as well as my problems with eating and body image at an all time high) made last year’s holidays really depressing.
But this year, I am being more optimistic. While not healthy, my mom is feeling better, and she has gained some of herself back. I am going to visit my grandparents in Manhattan over break, which i’m excited for; seeing family during this time has always been what made it so special for me. And now that I am older, I go out more on my own and explore the city by myself. The holidays have also served as a time of reflection for me, so this time with myself lets me look back on the last year, both the good and the bad. Like most people, I always want to be better in the new year (though, most of my “resolutions” never really end up how I want..) and reflecting before the year ends helps me think about what I want to improve in my life. This year has been full of ups and downs for me, but i’ve grown a lot. My goal is to focus more on balance rather than specific things I want, as I feel that one of my biggest weaknesses at the moment is the lack of balance in my life.
To me, the holidays are both a time of reflection as well as a new beginning. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that the pandemic has changed the way we view ourselves and others, and this time of year I think it’s really important to reconnect. I’m looking forward to ending my year with the people I love most, and beginning a fresh, new year full of possibility.
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