Growing up, I felt undeniable warmth and joy every Christmas. The warmth radiating from the kitchen as my family cooked would always make me smile, and I’d feel truly at home. All year, no matter what kind of pain I felt, I pined after that feeling. The possibility that Christmas could give me this feeling of wholeness, joy, and peace for even one day kept me going.
Last year was different. When COVID hit, I spent long months anxiously waiting for Christmas. I was so hopeful that it would be a day I could feel that sense of love by being surrounded by family again, especially after feeling so much dread.
But as someone with anxiety, I was debilitatingly afraid of catching COVID. There was no way I would feel comfortable meeting with my family for our annual celebration without being vaccinated.
Before I knew it, Christmas 2020 rolled around and the virus was increasingly dangerous. Although my family members wanted to have a smaller meeting, I couldn’t say yes without compromising my physical and mental health.
That Christmas was easily the worst one I’ve experienced. The fact that I couldn’t recreate the warmth and joy I depended on was beyond heartbreaking. What else could I spend the entire year looking forward to?
This year — now that my family and I are vaccinated and getting boosters — I am beyond excited to make up for lost time. I only get a limited amount of time back home, so I want that time to be worthwhile. Especially since this is my first year of in-person college, I only get so many opportunities to make memories with my loved ones.
But now that the Omicron variant keeps spreading, I’m trying not to lose hope. I keep spiraling about the worst that could happen: millions of deaths and a reinstated lockdown. To keep myself grounded though, I’m trying to focus on what I can control: spending quality time with my family and trying to celebrate the holidays in a way that makes us happy.