By Kaitlin Johnstone

What the Holiday Season Means to Me

Sitting on my couch, cool air finally flowing through the windows, enough so that I can enjoy the coziest flannel blanket given to me by one of my students, along with a piping hot cup of coffee topped with enough whipped cream to fill the bellies of all Santa’s elves, I am thinking of what the holiday season means to me.I grew up celebrating Christmas and I remember it always being my favorite time of year. Of course, I had a list for Santa and presents piled high under the tree. But when you take a deeper look into what makes the holidays so special I guarantee most of you will not say the gifts. I remember the magic. The belief that, somehow in my young naïve mind, children all around the world had a piece of this fairy-tale as well. I believed in unity. My family, as with many, has had its fair share of trials and tribulations; however, the holidays always seemed to bring us together. I believed in traditions. Each Christmas eve, my father and I ordered Chinese food and cuddled up in our living room to watch A Christmas Story. The enjoyment of laughs and a peaceful shared space was significant. The idea that other parts of our lives could be crumbling faster than my mom’s latest batch of snowball cookies did not matter because somehow, in that moment, we always had that movie to hold on to. I believed in friends. You see, as I grew older it was my friends that truly became family. My house was a safe space for everyone to laugh and stay (trust me, my mom would take your keys the moment you had a little too much spiked egg nog). As the years went on, there was comfort in knowing that every holiday season the house would be full of memories that would never die.

Now, as I sit here and sip the last drops of whipped deliciousness, I am reminded that magic fades, traditions end, and friends leave. I can remember the first Christmas I didn’t see my father because he was sick. The same year my parents’ house sold and a close friend was taken too soon. It was crushing to realize Christmas isn’t always great for everyone. Yet, as we experience loss and pain, new chapters begin. With the arrival of our own Christmas miracle right around the corner, I want my future daughter to experience her own magic and, most importantly, I need her to understand that holidays are more than 100 meaningless gifts. I want her to understand that “the season of giving” should be impactful. Of course, I want her eyes to light up the first time she sees a perfectly-lit Christmas tree. I want her to believe in Santa and all the joy that comes along with it. Nevertheless, I want to raise a child that understands the importance of being understanding and empathetic, especially around the holidays. I want to better myself and be conscious of the idea that many people don’t have someone to share holidays with or that sometimes seeing family isn’t a joyous occasion that everyone makes it out to be. I held on to my naivety for many years in hopes that Christmas erased all pain.  However, often times, the holiday season can bring about anxiety and depression. They highlight the ideology that families are always happy, everyone has endless amounts of money, and miracles take place all the time, which simply is not the case. Please know that I am not suggesting we all walk around miserable because of these realizations. I am simply recommending we are a bit more conscious of what others go through and try our best to act with kindness. Check in on friends, hold your family close, and if nothing else, offer a helping hand, a listening ear, and a little love whenever possible. Happy Holidays❤️


  • Dawn,
    I am so very sorry to hear of all your losses. Please hold on to the beautiful memories you e made with them throughout the years. I hope you and your family have a beautiful holiday and we are certainly keeping you and your loved ones in our hearts ❤️❤️❤️

    Kaitlin on

  • This has been a very tough year. I lost my Daddy in February, my grandmother in April and our family doggie in October. My heart is so broken. Please keep our family in your thoughts as we face the holidays without our precious loved ones.

    Dawn on

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