It’s Christmas time again. It’s magical how everything changes this time of year; the day after Thanksgiving everything suddenly becomes cozy and beautiful. The streets you’ve been driving every day now look different. The houses you pass by every day, the ones that never looked like anything special amid all of the look-alike houses jammed together in this crowded world, those houses are now covered in cheery lights, they look cozy and now instead of just another building, they look like a home. You can imagine a family there. They’re full of warmth and anticipation for the holiday. The stores have a new energy, and the people have a different gleam in their eyes like they’re seeing the world as they did when they were children with less worries and more hope.

I love the lights, I love the energy. I know I should be happy when the trees and decorations go up. But I’m not. Instead my loneliness wraps tighter around me. The colored lights that aren’t the ones I used to have and the sparkling ornaments that aren’t mine, the stocking that doesn’t have my name on it anymore, they remind me of what I used to have. I miss you more this time of year, I miss home. Holidays don’t mean what they used to. They don’t fill me with anticipation. This will be my ninth Christmas without you, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. Instead of spending the day at my cozy house on the corner, with the chipped paint and the ugly shag carpet, with my small but perfect family, I spend the day in a house I desperately try to make my home but can’t. And this year will be my second Christmas with my unwelcome guest, OCD, contaminating the last few pieces of joy I’ve been grasping onto.

Despite all of that, I am happy to know that I had those Christmases. When I was too excited to sleep, when I waited impatiently as the adults insisted on eating breakfast and drinking coffee before opening presents. The years when my sister and I would be the elves and pass out the gifts, and the magic lasted all day. Those memories are the only thing that OCD can’t take away from me this Christmas. Thank you for giving me those Christmases, thank you for filling them with warmth and magic. I wish we could have had more, and I wish you could see me create them for my own family some day.

“Maybe one day I’ll be happy and warm and safe.”

As I write this the ground outside is being covered in a sparkly dusting of snow, the fire is burning and the tree is surrounded by presents. Yet I’m not happy, it doesn’t feel like Christmas. But that’s ok, because I had those perfect Christmases, it’s ok because I was happy. And it’s ok because one day I’ll have that Christmas again. But right now I just miss you. I always will, but one day maybe that sadness will be more bittersweet. Maybe I’ll feel it, and it won’t be so crippling. Maybe I’ll think of you and I’ll smile, because I miss you, but I’m happy. Maybe one day I’ll be happy and warm and safe.

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