My little sister is sixteen and gorgeous. She sports a sparkly little nose stud, stylish clothes, and a haircut adorable enough to kill. She brims over with smiles, and in the Thanksgiving pictures, she and my mom are cheek-to-cheek with matching lipgloss, making silly faces together. I grin at the photos, but I can’t help the urgent stinging under my eyelids.
It’s not jealousy. I love my sister, and I’m quite honestly delighted with my current life. However, I wasn’t when I was her age. Frumpiness was thrust upon me young, and I spent nearly every moment of my early teenage years sinking with humiliation. Sinking and hiding. My mother—burdened with griefs I’m only now beginning to understand—never smiled at me. We never giggled together or shared makeup or staged silly photos. Any photos, for that matter. And when I see my beautiful sister and my beautiful mom having fun together, it inflames my war wounds. I may be a decade and an ocean removed from my past, but recovery still eludes.
Holidays in particular bring out the tangles in my emotions. No matter how happy I am with my sweet husband and precious girls, I can’t entirely forget the family life that once hurt me so deeply—the tense mealtimes, the clouds of violence, and the Christmastime hopes that always failed to fully materialize. While the New Year rang in on my fifteenth year, I lay in bed discussing suicide with myself. Happy holidays!
If I could ask any gift from my sister this year, it would be a memory—just one would do, and I’d return it in perfect condition. If I could just once remember my teenage self feeling beautiful or treasured or brimming over with shared smiles… well, Christmas would be a bit easier to look forward to.
With the gloom worked out of my system, I have to say that I really am excited about this month. We’re planning Christmas crafts and outreach projects and deliciously sneaky shopping trips with frost-tipped noses and hot chocolate at the end. One of my favorite parts of the holiday is planning gifts for friends, and I certainly can’t overlook the wonderful blog community this year. My husband may be getting tired of me telling him how much I like the internet, but I really do. I’m madly in love with it. I love having a place to spill my thoughts and having you all sop them up for me, and I love the way gratuitous kindness can spread unhindered across the globe. I know it’s not much, but I’m excited to send out a little end-of-the-year gift to you in time for Christmas. (Hint: It’s a recipe, and it’s Italian, and I promise it will be in the best interest of your happiness… and that of your sweet tooth. Enough said.) Just e-mail me with your mailing address, and I’ll send an envelope of holiday cheer your way! ‘Tis the season… and I’m grateful for you all.