Christmas was always a family time when I was growing up – I believe I’m still growing, but, you know, in a different way. I have vivid and special memories of this time of the year. I remember we used to spend Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family and the day with my mom’s side, or vice-versa. We would also pop into my affective grandma’s – a non-biological part of my family which I’m extremely attached to and I can explain more about our relationship in a different post – and see some friends when we had the chance.
I was the kind of child who would wholeheartedly believe in Santa. I wrote letters for him year after year and he (who I later found out was my dad) would even call me to ask if I had been a good girl throughout the year. On Christmas Eve around 8 pm, my parents used to find a way to make me leave the house and place my presents underneath the tree. When I got back home, I would find the window of our dining room wide open and my dad seated on the couch pointing at the sky, saying that Santa had just left and that he tried to convince him to wait for me to come back and meet him, but he was extremely busy and had to head to other children’s house before midnight. I still remember a mini-me looking out the window and feeling a mix of disappointment at having missed Santa and anxiety to see if I had gotten what I had asked.
Time went by, we’ve changed the way we celebrate as we don’t have as many kids in the family as we used to. My cousins and I became adults, some of them got married and started their own families giving them extra families to visit and, although I’m not part of the group which created a new family, my life has also changed. This year, for the second time around, I spent Christmas away from home.
I was clueless about how I would react this time. Last time I was only 19, seen snow for the first time and full of excitement – as far as I can remember, and I can’t remember much, to be frank (one of the reasons why this blog is so important; if anything, a future me will be able to come back to this post and collect some info about the 26yo Camila living in Brisbane and spending Christmas overseas). I do not think spending Christmas, birthday or any other festivities away from your beloved ones is the end of the world. There’re worst problems in life and, in my case, I’ve been learning to value the quality of the time I spend with people I love more than the formalities, seasons and “important dates”. However, there’s always that sense of uncertainty. The more you know yourself and spend time with yourself, the more you realize there’s still lots to be learned and that you can react differently to the same sort of situation depending on numerous internal and external factors.
To be honest, I was kind of mentally processing the fact that I could end up spending Christmas Eve AND Christmas day by myself at home. Do you know when we sing mantras in our minds to try to convince ourselves that everything is going to be alright? That was me. And it turned out the mantra was right. I did spend the Eve alone eating a beautiful dinner I cooked myself and listening to Brazilian Christmas songs, but on the 25th, I went to a fabulous party at a friend’s. We had a super multicultural selection of food – Brazilian, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Australian -, exchanged presents, played games and learned heaps from each other.
The internet helped me to chat to my family for a bit also and at the end of the day, I laid my head on my pillow feeling my best. Yep, I was – and I am – away from home, but I couldn’t be closer to my dreams and to the truest version of myself. I fell asleep with a happy and grateful heart and if Christmas is not about it, I don’t know what it is about.