Summer Lynne Seasons, PQ Monthly
Growing up with a large family we always had huge Christmas parties. When you’re young you don’t really understand why you had to hug the Aunt and Uncle you see but once a year, but you do it because mom and dad say so, and then you wonder why they are making such a big deal about how much you’ve grown or changed. To me, most often these people seemed like total strangers. I mean I knew we were related, but we weren’t very close so we put on the charade that we loved each other and carried on about our lives. As I grew older, I started to form my own opinions about all of these family members. In my heart and my head they became my family and for that I’m grateful for the family values mom and dad made me adhere to because it made my life so much easier to navigate when I became an adult.
From an early age, it was always instilled in me that family was not just blood but who you chose to spend your time with as well. I grew up with 2 families, The Millers, and The Sajovics and by all intents and purposes the girls were my sisters. We did everything together, Thanksgiving, Easter, Shasta family vacations, and I knew that no matter what Cory, Michele, Brandy, and Kym were just as much my family as my brother Blake and my sister Alexis. It wasn’t a holiday unless it was spent with these families.
Christmas was always a different ball game, however. We spent it with our blood families and although at first it was awkward, I began to enjoy these memories with my parent’s families. No family isn’t perfect without it’s black sheep, and often I felt I was probably one of them, being the first member in my family to come out, but somehow the large amount of us made it easier to navigate being close to each other. There was definitely our share of feuds, but at Christmas we all somehow managed to come together and for one day let all the other stuff go.
As we grew older and my large amounts of cousins started having kids of their own, it became increasingly difficult for us to do the large family gatherings, but mom somehow always found a way to get her sisters together and do baking cookie days, which is where my love of baking came from. With our families growing and changing, we began to grow and change our own traditions. Our good friends the Marsh’s invited us to a Christmas Eve, Margaritas and Mexican food feast and our new family tradition was born. Often times we only get to see each other that day, but now we walk into it thankful that we get to spend the time with people whom we love and whom we choose and they chose us. We are a family.
My traditions changed drastically when I went to go work for Darcelle XV, however. Darcelle is perhaps the most generous person I know, and she told me on Christmas Eve that she served the homeless of the neighborhood and I agreed to come not really knowing what to expect. First, I was blown away by the amount of food that Darcelle personally paid for and had cooked for all the people. Second, I was blown away by the gratitude of all the families that were thankful just to have a warm meal. I remember as I was driving to the Margarita party after that tears were streaming down my face at how amazing and emotional that night was for me. It has become a tradition that I look forward to every year. The feast only gets bigger and better, but the attitude of it never changes, it’s such a humbling experience.
My friends changed the scope of holiday traditions for me entirely also. My family has always been the kind to invite you to our house for the holidays, if you have nowhere to go, you come to ours and many of my friends began their holidays with us at our house. As we got to be older, everyone sort of branched out and did their own things but we made sure to come together. We now annually do a Friendsgiving feast, a Christmas gift exchange and Lucky Leprechaun where the entire month of March we shower one person with positivity and small gifts.
You see my holidays don’t have to be anything or everything all wrapped into what it used to be. It’s an ever-growing field that makes life enjoyable and fun. The times were changing and I was ready to embrace the change with it. I’m so thankful for each experience and opportunity that gets to come my way for the holidays because making people enjoy them gives me the greatest joy ever. For now, I’ll continue to wrap each Christmas present in Blue or silver so that you know it’s from me, but I’m not opposed to changing it to Purple. We are lucky to live in the world where we get to choose our family and have a family also. No matter what part of the spectrum works best for you, chosen or blood, learn to celebrate each other at least for the holiday season. Summer may be my favorite Season, but winter is about people coming together to be at home.