This used to be my favourite season.
I don’t even know why. Christmas was always about tedious gatherings. Each parental group of friends and family — consisting only of Chinese people — would take turns hosting parties. As one of the “kids”, I was thrust in a room with the other sons and daughters. People I only saw once a year, with whom I had nothing in common. Some years, I’d go to six different houses in two weeks.
My parents would always host New Year’s. Some time ago, with the money I earned from my first job, I bought them a classy fondue set and fondue book for them to use as hosts. They never opened the box, or even cracked the spine of the book. It broke my heart.
The things that people gave me never made things better. Gifts were always safe.
Monetary certificates. Sweaters. Cheap stationary. Nothing personalized. Nothing from the heart. Nothing I ever needed or wanted. It was merely a display of how little people knew or cared about me. It would have meant more if they gave the money to charity.
The one reprieve during the holidays was being able to see Darren, sneaking out in the middle of a party to get stoned with him, or hanging out with John.
Then why did the holidays mean so much to me?
Maybe it was the atmosphere. The snow. The memories of Christmas in Hong Kong. The fact that people who had nothing in common would put up Christmas lights. Something that everyone believed in.
Even though I’ve received some beautiful, thoughtful gifts for once, even though I don’t really celebrate Christmas, I’m down. It’s too warm for the snow to stay. I didn’t buy presents for anyone. I’m working the short week between Christmas weekend and New Year’s weekend because I can’t afford any time off.
I suppose the holidays are what you make of them.
There have been many generous people — Louise, John, Aaron, Joel, Bronwen, Pat — who opened their houses to me today, but it’s not the same.
It’s made me realize that even though I loathed those gatherings back home, I still needed them.
To feel like I was part of something, part of a family, as dysfunctional as it was. Because of the divorce, there’s no home to go to for the first time in my life.
Christmas is dead this year, but it’s only a reflection of how dead I feel inside.