Christmas has come and gone, and no doubt many of you are still with your families as you come down off the joyous highs of the yule tide time. All throughout the day, scrolling through Twitter and peeking at Facebook, I saw many of my friends with their families; opening gifts, eating bountiful feasts, and enjoying each other’s company. Truly, this time of year is a reminder that the people in our lives are more than secondary characters in our stories, and in a strange way I’m reminded to be appreciative that they’ve allowed me a role in their tales, as I’ve allowed them roles in mine.
But it also stung a little bit. Each smiling face was like a pinprick at my brain that was deflating my mood and bringing me down. It wasn’t their fault, of course, and I wish all of them and all of you continuous joy throughout this season and the next. But each status update, each Tweet, each text, was a reminder that I wasn’t sharing these experiences with my own family.
It’s been five years since I’ve been home for the holidays. It’s not from a lack of wanting to go, nor is it an issue of not being welcome by the extended family who, shall we say, “disagrees” with some of my political and religious viewpoints. Truth be told, all it boils down to is me having really shitty luck.
Over the past five years December has been particularly unkind to me financially. The TL;DR:
- 2010: I had just moved from Michigan to Pennsylvania, and was freelancing full time. I was broke.
- 2011: Star Wars: The Old Republic launched on December 20th. I wasn’t going anywhere.
- 2012: I had just moved to California to start a new job. I was broke.
- 2013: I had just lost the job that I had moved to California for. I was broke.
- 2014: I had just recently started a new job. I was broke.
As you can see, I have a terrible habit of being completely broke come the end of the year. It’s a trend that I hope to avoid in 2015 and beyond.
Luckily I’m not missing out on too much. My family isn’t particularly close to each other. Sure, we love each other dearly and are always there for one another when things go catastrophically wrong, but we aren’t one of those families who are in constant contact with each other or spend their every waking moment together. I’ve lamented in the past about how my mother and I, while we love each other dearly, don’t particularly like each other. When we do reach out, it’s usually brief conversations to bring the other up to speed on life and discuss what we want to do to surprise my little brother. Though with her health issues and my own health scares from the past year, we’ve started to bury the hatchet (and not in each other’s skulls).
It’s not been all bad, though. Each year I’ve had the good fortune of spending the holidays with very dear people. I’ve spent Christmas watching movies with friends, and I’ve spent Christmas helping those in need. I spent one Christmas with coworkers from Red 5 Studios (where we watched South Park and ate the best damn lamb chops I’ve ever had), and I spent another with my compatriots from BioWare (where we got piss drunk and trolled people in our own damn game). Hell, I even spent one Christmas sleeping for 20 hours simply because I could.
That last one may have been my favorite. Certainly it was the most relaxing.
My point is that despite not being able to go home for it, this time of year has shown me repeatedly that I have a lot to be grateful and joyful about. Has it been perfect? Shit, no! Objectively speaking, those periods in my life have largely sucked. But around Christmas, each year without fail, we’re shown that we all have some remarkable, caring, brilliant people in our lives who make the day-to-day grind of merely existing a little more bearable, and a little more fun. To me, that’s what this holiday is about.
All that said, I really want to go home next year.