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  • Writer's pictureHey Draughter

I'll Be Home...

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Everyone lives for the lights, the festive decorations, the family moments. That time when the holiday season becomes one with crazy deliveries and “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on repeat all around. Well, I don’t know if anyone else has felt like it, but 2020’s holiday season has felt like quite the departure from all of our holiday traditions, even for those who are often the most festive of the bunch. This year, instead of giant family dinners, we had zoom calls and takeout. Though many of us were fortunate enough to spend this season with the ones they cherish most in one way, there are still an immeasurable amount of people that will spend this holiday season alone and struggle with seasonal depression.

For me, Christmas has always been about family. My mom’s birthday falls on Christmas Eve, my older cousin’s is on Christmas Eve, my youngest cousin— the 29th, and my late great-

grandmother who would’ve been 108 on New Year’s Eve. After my grandfather passed in the winter of 2011, gatherings had become hard for my family and over time became nonexistent altogether. It was a hard time for me because I was so close to him, and after that winter my battles with my own season depression worsened over time. People would keep in touch here and there, but the very essence of home that was felt so long during the holidays had been displaced. With the absence of my grandfather came the removal of those traditions, and as someone who longs to uphold them, I set out fervently to start new ones. Thanksgiving, Christmas & NY’s transitioned into me spending holidays with my chosen and extended family that I found over the years through friends and family friends. It got to the point where my youngest cousin would tag along and we would house hop to visit family to family. It was our new way to celebrate Christmas, and bring in the New Year with people we’d grown closest to.

In 2018, when I’d returned home for Christmas it was a very different experience. It had been the first Christmas I’d have with my blood family since coming out. It was honestly the first time I’d actually seen and spoken to my mother in months. That whole trip was odd, stuck in the strangeness of attempting to maintain my full festivity, while also trying to find my footing in my mother’s house when feelings of unacceptance were confirmed. Still, I took it upon myself to adhere to my house-hopping traditions with my cousin & brother to visit my real family, but it was still nonetheless a painful pill to swallow.

Christmas of 2019, was different. I’d decided to find a way to set up boundaries with my family, so I’d be able to maintain the joy of the holiday season. I’d see them for Thanksgiving, and I would spend my Christmas in my old home, San Francisco, with very close family friends I’d made since I’d lived there. The plan was that I’d stay with them and housesit through Christmas and then we’d kick it for New Years’. It was set. I kicked off my holiday with a trip to Vegas to see Mariah’s All I Want For Christmas Is You: A Night of Joy and Festivity (and it really was), then once work was over, I jetted down to SF to begin all of the gifting, the brunching, and maybe a tad bit of heaux-heaux-heauxing. I spent Christmas with one of

my best friends from college and her parents, who I love. I’d gotten gifts, had alone time (which is crucial for me), and seen extended family, but in hindsight something was still missing. I’d retreated to my snow globe of festivity, literally only to have it to myself. Through longing for my family, I knew it was time for things to change, and I vowed to myself that I would never spend a Christmas that would be separated from my family. Over time, through work and difficult conversations, things did get better for my family and me. I was even able to feel comfortable enough to move back home during the pandemic to be closer to them and recenter myself.

Fast forward to 2020, and my friends have been in the midst of group FaceTimes, Zoom Christmas parties, charcuterie boards, and self-made cocktails for one (or two). Though Covid has tried to dampen our holiday season, it hasn’t killed our spirit of togetherness. Seeing tons of my friends get through the holidays in this way, has shown me that I was blessed to spend this year at home.

For the first time in my life, I’m able to live in the same household with my family as my complete self. So I decided to pay homage to this moment in my hometown by doing two things: throwing down in the kitchen the best way I knew how and making a playlist with my mom. In New Orleans, the holiday season often greets us through our noses and stomachs first. The season is the pentacle of soul food tradition passed down for generations, and that is one thing to never be messed with. There’s always a supreme spread blessed by the aunties. Aromas of cornbread, mac & cheese, greens, yams, stuffing, the works followed by dessert waft through the houses. Usually followed by the taste test battle to see who outdid who for this year’s recipes. This year, there was no taste test. Covid confined our Christmas and New Year’s to just us. We had a divine dinner with gumbo (prepared by yours truly). We had a jam session curated by me and moms. We spent time together, for the first time in years under a tree, opening presents, laughing and dancing as we used to when my brother and I were kids.

This time of year isn’t easy for a lot of us. It can be lonely and often associated with the loss of ones we miss most at Christmastime. As much as the season is a time of festivity and hope, it can also be a perpetual season of letting go. That Christmas night in San Francisco, I’d left my friend’s home and walked back to the home in the hills where I was sitting. Waiting for my extended family to return made me feel more like Kevin McCallister in Home Alone than ever before. I really thought that I’d be alright without my biological family and all of the peeps I’d spent those days with. And though I was, the memories I used to collect with those people all seemed to pause at the end of that year. If there’s one thing I’ve learned out of all of this, it’s never take your family for granted. Whether by blood, choice, or chance these are the people that have your back, they help us unwrap our love, and make all of your holidays so nice, better than ever.

Things you can do to find your way back to the holiday szn, New Year’s included:

  • Never take your family for granted. By blood or by choice, family is crucial. Never stop telling them you love them if you have the chance to.

  • Find ways to implement boundaries when you need them most. After I came out to my family, things were HARD. Sometimes you feel like you have no connection to people when times are that tough. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and it’s still a work in progress but the boundaries with my family are what allow me to love them through the hard times.

  • Start a new family traditions. Why let distance be the only limit between us and our loved ones. Find ways to stay connected, whether it's a weekly phone call or monthly zoom call. Pick something to watch together and talk about it, have conversations you've never had. One thing we did this year, was make a Christmas playlist.

  • Auld Lang Syne. Some relationships were built to stand the tests of time. Others, just significant seasons in our lives. It’s important to learn when to embrace the moments and let them go.

Photos by Miles Jordan (IG @milesbjordan)

Stream chrimma '20 on Apple Music.

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