The holidays: a season of family, of food, and of giving; a time meant to cherish traditions and create new ones, to find warmth and laughter.
But, Christmas isn’t like that. At least not for me.
It’s a time to remind me I don’t belong.
After I was adopted, finding my place in a big extended family was hard, especially during the holidays, and I never grasped that true sense of belonging. Throughout the years, I have celebrated Christmas with many others; my birth family, friends and their families. But, that feeling of being the outsider never seems to leave.
It’s a time to remind me I don’t matter.
I have little good memories about opening gifts as an immediate family while growing up. My sister received things she had wanted and wished for, while I was told my gift was in the refrigerator, one year being a jar of pickles and string cheese. It felt like a blatant suggestion that I wasn’t worth their time.
It’s a time to remind me I am invisible.
When I spend the holidays with friends and their families, I feel unseen. Everyone gathers together to open gifts. I sit there watching them give and get, watching them laugh and cry. And too often, I feel myself disappearing into the corner, my presence becoming increasingly unknown.
And, it’s a time to remind me the truth.
Sometimes the holidays are hard and sometimes they are easy. Every year and every Christmas presents a chance for change and an opportunity for growth. It’s okay to cry and it’s okay to laugh. It’s about learning to embrace the good, flourish from the bad and hold onto the truth.
So each year, I’ll walk into the season with this: I am wanted, I am loved, and I am seen.