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Holidays with COVID

With COVID still very much underway, I was wondering how your holidays have been effected this year. As for me, I’m used to being able to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s surrounded by my family- usually at least 20 people, and this year has seemed so opposite of that. Although I have been able to enjoy some of this season’s traditional good food, I am still very much missing being able to spend quality time with loved ones and sharing laughs.

What are some of the things that you’ve missed the most during this holiday season?
How has this year’s holidays looked different than usual for you?

What is Your Favorite Holiday?

We are right in the middle of the holiday season, and I would love to know what everyone’s favorite holiday is and why!

I think mine would have to be Christmas, especially more lately because I can see my son’s face light up as he sees all the lights and decorations every where. I also admire the meaning that it has on a religious level.

How about you guys?

Point Your Toes in the Direction of Your Dreams

Today, as I enjoy my mini celebration of being alive for exactly 23.75 years, I cannot get some very specific thoughts out of my head. So I am going to share them with you.
Because maybe if I write them down, and maybe if I have someone on my side, I’ll be able to battle their intrusion.

I am tired. My body and my head and my soul are tired. I feel like I am being pulled in 27 different directions. I am spreading myself so so thin to satisfy everything and everyone. I’m not complaining. I was MEANT to be on this earth to make people feel loved, and to help them realize they don’t have to walk this life alone. I am eternally grateful that fate has chosen me to fulfill that duty. It is my purpose and caring for people is what gives my soul strength.
I am just tired.

The end of the year is always an incredible whirlwind of emotions and I don’t know if I can physically/emotionally/mentally handle all of those emotions this year. As December unravels, it is getting harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. My body is craving more hours of sleep, but my mind cannot rest.
I don’t know how to, or if I even want to, take part in the Christmas festivities that are supposed to be so warm and so joyous and so loving. I don’t know if I can put on my “social interaction doesn’t terrify me” costume and be a joyous Olivia.

I have come SO far in the last year in terms of my mental health and my mental wellness. I am SO proud of who I am and who I have become. Every day I am reminded of the incredible things I have done by someone who sees who I really am. I am surrounded by so much love and support, and I still manage to forget that I am not alone.

So if you are reading this today, I get it. I get you. It’s not easy to be able to recognize the wonderful spirit you bring to this world. But I promise, it’s there.

As for me, I’ve cordially invited my Anxiety and my Depression to take the rest of the year off. They have worked hard enough from January until now. I am done with their misbehavior. I am done with the way they make me feel.
So from now until the end of this year (and hopefully well into 2018), the smile that you see is raw and real. It’s genuine.

And as for Anxiety and Depression- you may have won a few battles, but you are not winning this war.

Ho! Ho! Ho?

This holiday season brings back a lot of memories and maybe that’s one reason why the holidays can be so difficult. Family is always one of the greatest assets during Christmas. I’ve always believed that this is the best time to get together with family… to spend a few days cuddling together, especially in the cold but of course to catch up on some of the good things that happened throughout the year.

But instead of fighting myself to forget all the good times, regardless of the bad, I thought maybe, while drawing on some of those many memories, why not share them?

So I want to talk about growing up in Jamaica with my family during Christmas. There are many similarities between Christmas here in the States and Christmas on the islands – whether, its in the music, the food, the rituals or just the holiday season itself but there are still many differences.

-Christmas Eve – On Christmas eve, towns are crowded. No surprise there… everyone is shopping. In Jamaica, there is a name for this: “Grand Market”. It might be similar to Black Friday in terms of the price offers and it can get just as crazy. One aspect of ‘Grand Market’ is ‘night shopping’. I can’t forget how much Jamaicans loved to do this. This was mostly for the younger generation though and it was basically spending the night in the streets while on a shopping spree. Traditional Christmas didn’t require a Christmas tree and of course, Jamaicans don’t have Chimneys so there wasn’t the anticipation of Santa. But the tales of Santa was in my heart while growing up, as much as it was in yours.

-A typical Christmas morning starts with church. This wasn’t the best moment for me, because I didn’t like going to church. But something about that ritual reminds me why it wasn’t so bad after-all. I spent Christmas at my grandmother’s house, because that’s where all the family come together (from generation to generation) and on Christmas morning my grandmother would take her grand children to church with her. So we would be up by 6 in the morning and out for a two hour church service, before returning home for Christmas breakfast. This was a special time for me – time with my family, especially my cousins was priceless.

-Food. This was one of the best part of Christmas. Sorrel, Christmas cake (with fruits, rum and raisin), akee and saltfish, festivals, ham (with pineapples), curry goat, ‘rice and peas’, just to give you a taste. Back then, Christmas wouldn’t have been Christmas without this mix. The most iconic beverage at Christmas was ‘sorrel’, a red drink with (or without) an alcoholic base.

-The celebrations – Jankunu!!! A fun to watch and to participate in, kind of costume street parade. My most memorable account of this, was during a school play where I played the character “Cow Head” (a depiction of the figure shown below). Jankunu to me is equivalent to gay pride, lol. But they are both symbold of liberty and community.
Also, on Christmas, nothing unusual, but I get to see the most familiar faces in my family. We had a big family reunion. And I said that because it was a really big family. We had so many people sleeping over at my grandmother’s house that there were people sleeping on couches and on the floor. But it was all fun nonetheless.

-The weather – do I need to mention that every Christmas was warm and sunny? Man, we wished for snow every Christmas. All we had were myth about snow falling in Jamaica. Before moving here, the closest I got to snow was from watching movies. We watched classics too: Home Alone, Elf, The Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snow Man, you name it.

-The Music – Jamaicans have probably remixed every single popular Christmas music into reggae. Being much older now, music helps me to relive what Christmas was like growing. Good memories maybe?

But with this and many more, Christmas will always mean the same thing to me no matter how older I get and I see that from my memories. Every Christmas I just want to keep adding to that meaning and its simply one of love, peace and tolerance.

Feel free to share your Christmas memories as well, would love to hear it!!! 🙂

Gay Santa

LGBTQ youth this is for you!

TCC is hosting a Gay Santa program this December. Its their second time hosting the program. Basically you sign up to receive a gift at a Christmas event on December 21st at the center in Norwalk.

“To qualify to receive a gift from the Gay Santa program, one must:

-identify as LGBTQ
-be in need (homelessness, at-risk, on hard times, etc)

If you or someone you know qualifies for this program, please reach out to TCC staff via phone, email, or in-person.”

To learn more about the event, please click here: http://www.ctpridecenter.org/gay_santa_2016 or contact the program coordinator at TCC @ 203-853-0600 x 103