By Tara Corpuz
A year from now I’ll be living in a different city, a feat I’ve been working towards for what seems like a lifetime. My soul was always flightful and full of fancy. Perhaps I listened to “One Day I’ll Fly Away” from Moulin Rouge too often growing up, but I always knew there was something more, something out there, if I could just work hard enough to reach it. But I’ve found lately as moving day draws nearer, the elements of my life that I’d grown tired of in my adolescence have now become bittersweet. And it’s apparent just how influential the holiday season really is.
When I was younger, Christmas was—like many other children—my favorite holiday. In addition to the time off from school and presents at the base of the tree that were all mine (I was an only child and didn’t want the lame presents my parents gave each other anyway), I got to eat like a queen and watch Christmas movies all day. What else in life could possibly be better than this?
As I entered adolescence, Christmas fell by the wayside. Now not satisfied with being the only thing my parents could focus on, I found myself lonely without brothers or sisters on the cold day where the house smelled perpetually like turkey and cranberry sauce (nice the first day, annoying by the next). I relished the days I could visit my mother’s family in a cold village in the arctic, surrounded by Athabascan fiddle dancing and Kool-Aid. As the years passed as a teenager, Thanksgiving became my go-to holiday: great food, very little family time (one day versus weeks on end sounded better and better as each year passed).
This Thanksgiving vs. Christmas idea only cemented while I was in high school—correction, boarding school. I came home for a month each holiday season and was forced to coincide Christmas with super-charged family time. The songs started to grate my ears. The cheer was nauseating. And while I longed for my dad’s famous stuffing each year, I took less and less pleasure in everything that “Christmas” embodied.
This phase lasted too long, to be honest, and it’s because I was having a rough time of it through college and figuring out how to really be an “adult.”
I’m 26 now, and I found—with long-forgotten delight—that when I was driving home from work sometime after Halloween and turned on the radio to hear “Deck the Halls” instead of “Boogie Shoes,” it was a tonic to my soul. What I’ve discovered since that day is this: Christmas will always be there for you.
It gets a bad rap sometimes, as being too jolly, too color-coordinated, too commercialized (the last of which I agree with sometimes, each and every time I’m a ball of stress about what to possibly buy for each member of my family and friends). Here’s the one complaint I hear over and over each year: It never goes away. And I’m here to say with a smile on my face that no, it doesn’t go away. It pops up the day after Halloween (or before, as I’ve heard some stores do) and doesn’t go away until you see the dregs of Santa decorations in the clearance bin at supermarkets clear into February.
After years of casting it aside as a necessary evil, I’m glad to see it taking over aisles in the store and light posts along the streets, simply because it’s always done so. It’s comfortable to know that a year from now, when I’ll be stringing up twinkle lights in my new home instead of helping my Dad decorate the tree, that the holiday can’t be beaten down into submission. It’s a relief to know I’ll always be able to purchase red and green frosted sugar cookies in the store and hear “Jingle Bell Rock” on the radio. As I prepare to figure out how to create new traditions, I’ll take warmth in knowing the old ones are still there—like watching Love Actually and The Christmas List too many times and dedicating Black Friday to decorating instead of shopping.
I will take warmth in knowing Christmas will always be there, for every weary person needing just a touch of light in the bleak cold, for every kid who’s ever needed to believe in Santa Claus, and for family members who only see each other once a year over food, music, laughs, pictures, fun, silliness, and hot cocoa.
It has failed many, me included, but it has never disappeared and will always hope for another chance to prove its worth. This will be my last Christmas living in Alaska, and instead of brushing Christmas aside as just another thing to get through in order to party it up like it’s 2016, my soul has decided to embrace all of its quirks and enjoy every second.
Tara sees and appreciates all colors, but jewel tones are her most flattering. With a degree in English Literature and a certificate in Book Publishing, she was bound to be surrounded in words for the rest of her life. It’s okay though, because that’s the way she likes it. An Alaskan by birth, she’s revving up to embrace her future Boston transplant status, where she’ll be bringing her clothes, her books, her dog, and her ideas. Follow her on Twitter @taracorpuz.