Updated: Oct 29, 2019
A warm fireplace going in a large house, in a nice suburban townhouse. Snow softly falling from the winter sky, while kids joyfully play indoors and chat with their loving grandparents. Aunts and uncles sharing heartfelt stories of the good old days - as the entire living room bursts into laughter.
A dinner feast is served along a long sturdy table in the elegant dining room, with happy relatives on both sides. Everyone passes around the delicious plates of potatoes, ribs, mac & cheese, while conversation is flowing like red wine.
Outside, the snow continues to softly fall around the brick townhouse, as children create a beautiful snowman on the front yard - while you can hear the bursts of laughter emanating from the dining room within the house.
And a happy time was had by all on this gentle white Christmas eve. The end. That is how Christmas should be celebrated!
Or how about this for New Years Eve?
An exciting party on the midtown Manhattan rooftop, with hot girls and handsome guys (all decked out in their snazziest outfits) dancing the night away to the beat of the DJ. As the clock ticks down to the New Year, they all scream in perfect unison “10! 9! 8! 7!”.
Champagne glasses raised high up in the air! “6! 5! 4! 3!”. Almost there! “2! 1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!”
As the music blares in the background, the rooftops of other Manhattan apartments similarly scream in ecstasy, as you see glitter, fireworks, and commotion going down everywhere across the NYC skyline.
And this party is just getting started! As all the socialites continue to dance the night away without a care in the world into the wee hours of the morning.
And that is how New Years Eve should be celebrated! Or so that’s how I thought when I was in high school. But, how often does the ideal occur? How often do things go the way we plan?
Currently, nearly 1 in every 120 New Yorker is homeless. How ideally do you think their lives are going in the wintertime?
Personally, I’ve been lucky to have some fond memories of Christmas - especially when I was a kid - in the comfort of my warm home.
My mom and dad would decorate our Christmas tree in our living room. We’d hang the Christmas lights in front of our window. And sometimes, we’d just close the living room lights, sit together on our sofa in silence, and just look at the Christmas tree in all its glistening glory.
Soaking in the moment with no words needed.
For Christmas eve, I’d remember my parents sneaking into my bedroom (thinking I was asleep) and putting chocolate candy into my stockings hung up on my door. On Christmas day, I would joyfully open beautifully wrapped presents placed beneath the Christmas tree.
I am grateful to have experienced some of these “ideals” of how Christmas should be.
Alas, of course, not every experience was like that.
In high school, I was pre-occupied with being cool. So, you could imagine the utter joy I felt upon getting invited to a New Years Eve party hosted by one of the coolest kids in our school. He lived in a huge house in Queens. I was so excited, and I expected a ginormous celebration.
I remembered those TV ads of those cool friends celebrating on the rooftop bar together in midtown Manhattan, counting down the seconds in their snazzy outfits. And I couldn’t help but feel like I was part of the “in” crowd.
Personality-wise, I’m not exactly what you’d call a party animal. Looking comfortable at these parties take more effort than I’d like to admit.
My sole memory of that party was at the very end. Everyone was passing champagne glasses around the room, as every person at the party got hold of a glass in anticipation. Excited to count down the final seconds together in unison as the big apple slowly dropped in Times Square on TV.
My friend and I were at the very end, and someone passed a glass to me. But, I gently passed it to my friend, whom was probably just as eager as me about fitting in.
There were 30 seconds left until the New Year approached. And I waited and waited for just one more champagne glass to be passed around, to come to my willing (and desperate) outstretched arms.
I wanted that glass, to toast together with the “in” crowd, to feel what it’s like to celebrate the New Years the right way. The ideal way.
To be that cool kid with the party animal personality in a snazzy outfit, celebrating the night away with his fellow cool people into the wee hours of the morning.
But that champagne glass never came. My friend got the last one of the night. And I looked around the basement - everyone with their eyes glistening and glass in hand.
Counting down the numbers “10! 9! 8! 7!” Their glasses raised up high. “6! 5! 4! 3!” I looked around awkwardly. Feeling out of place. “2! 1! Happy NEW YEAR!!!!”
Everyone was so excited, as they raised and toasted and drank their wine all to utter satisfaction. And I faked a smile to everyone. Pretending to be happy on the outside - but feeling complete misery on the inside. I was left out.
And I excused myself and told my friend (who was still tipsy from what-was-supposed-to-be my champagne) that I need to leave the party early.
I walked home alone on that chilly evening - shuffling my feet, looking down on the ground - trying to come to terms with that feeling of experiencing something that was not the ideal. It wasn’t a good feeling. This was not what was supposed to happen on New Years Eve.
And I went home - pretending that everything was okay. Telling my parents that I had a “good” time - and completely unaware of the true treasure that was around me in my own warm home in Forest Hills.
These days, the year-end holidays are less and less like that ideal version of what I envisioned back in high school.
My parents and I are too lazy to put that ginormous Christmas tree up in our living room. Last year, for Christmas eve, we went out to eat at a new Chinese restaurant together in Forest Hills. Just me, my mom, and my dad. That was it. And I was okay with that.
So now, with the holiday season fast approaching, please remember that it is okay if your experience does not fit into the ideal of what should be expected of you.
It’s okay if you are not celebrating Christmas surrounded by joyous relatives in a warm, suburban townhouse - with a magnificent feast awaiting at the dining room.
It’s okay if you are not the party animal that likes to drink into the wee hours of the evening for New Years Eve, dancing to the beat of the awesome DJ at the rooftop bar.
Most likely, you are not alone.
Quite often, our experiences in life do not match with the perceived ideal of what life should be. And that is okay. You do you. That’s all you need to do 😊.