It has been a long year. I see it on the faces of many good people, even as they are trying to spread love and joy themselves. I am always happy to see you for the holidays, but this Year feels more important than ever.
I need you so that I can be around someone who understands. You don’t have to comfort me or help me, but just knowing that you understand and you’re willing to be here is enough.
I also feel like you need me more than usual. You sometimes feel so deeply that even the smallest thing gets under your skin, and this has been a year of many things. It feels like you need to be here so that you can know that you’re loved, know that you have a place to be welcome, and know that safe havens do still exist. My dearest child, you are always welcome here and you will always be loved.
Many years you have come and we have had a grand plan of making festive food, and cookies, and crafts. A bright wreath, and an eternally smiling face usually greet you at the door. This year, instead of my usual cheery elf outfit, I greet you in my pajamas and muster a weary smile. Your eyes say you understand, and you drop your things in the floor and we hug.
After talking for a while in the foyer, we go settle down under the blankets and watch bad holiday movies like always. Laughter is an excellent medicine and we eventually realize we’re hungry. We start talking about holiday meals past–duck fried rice, roast beef, turkey–and then both concede that what we want the most is to be together and not have to bother with cooking anything.
Then we grin because we realize that, as adults, we really can do, or not do, whatever we want. So I go find our favorite cereal bowls and we load them up with every delightful carb filled calorie our heart desires. My favorite is lucky charms, but I keep a few different kinds on hand — some sugary, some not — just so I have the right cereal for the right mood.
After our cereal, a tremendous sugar rush hits me from all the marshmallows and I decide that I really want to decorate the tree right now. So you help me get everything out of the closet, and get the tree set up so we can put ornaments on it.
As terrible holiday clichés and puns drone on in the background, we put the ornaments on the tree and remember the stories behind them. There’s the ornament you made me in first grade, the ornaments with pictures of me from high school that your grandmother insisted that I have, ornaments we made together, ornaments I got on various vacations, and last, but certainly not least, the tree topper you made me last year.
After the tree is decorated, we decide we want something cozy to drink. I heat up some water and make myself some bo ri cha, Korean barely tea. I offer you an assortment of delicious beverages including herbal teas, green tea cocoa and apple cider. You pick your favorite and we go back to watching bad movies.
Long after the movies have turned into infomercials, we are still awake, talking about everything: our lives, the changes this year, how much we missed each other, and how we can best spread hope to those around us and the rest of the world. Somewhere in the middle of our planning to make the world a brighter place, our bodies finally give in the softness and warmth of the blankets. We fall asleep with smiles on our faces, happy to be together, happy to be understood, happy to be loved, and happy to know that we can spread that love and understanding to others… Even with simple gestures like weary smiles, listening, and letters.