What do you do when your hometown doesn’t feel like home anymore? Home is a funny word. It implies warmth, safety and familiarity. Until it doesn’t. Sometimes you find yourself in no man’s land – not comfortable with going back to where you came from, but not yet in the place where you have your own traditions.
Not a lot of people are actually from LA; most of us piled into our POS cars and drove out here with $20 to our name. I did that very thing and nine years later, this is my home.
It’s not my first time staying in Los Angeles for the holidays. When I moved here in 2009, I was so broke I ate PB&J sandwiches for three months. Needless to say a $750 plane ticket was not in my budget. My first Thanksgiving in LA is actually a fond memory; it was SO hot, I went for a jog that day and I got a tan. All my roommates had gone to their respective states for the holiday, so I had the house to myself. I opened all the windows, made myself a little dinner and watched a movie while wafts of fresh air blew through the house, cleaning out the smell of party. It was a day of serenity amidst chaos.
I stuck it out and this is my home, even if I sometimes don’t feel anchored to anything or anyone. For a while I did go back to Missouri, and even though I didn’t feel attached to anything there either, I just kept going back because what else was I going to do? My mom had moved out of our family home before my senior year of high school and my stepfather sold that house when I was a freshman in college. Life goes on and so do the holidays, but I never felt connected to anything after the family broke up. I’ve finally come to accept that that part of my life is done, but over the years I’ve also decided that I’d like to start my own family, my own home and my own traditions in Los Angeles, rather than flying back to Missouri and going through the motions.
For the first time in more than 20 years I’m looking forward to Christmas. I bought a tree, I wrapped gifts and I watched ALL of the Hallmark movies I could handle. I listen to Christmas music at work until the other girls change the Pandora station. For some reason (probably because I did the work), I feel like I have Christmas back. I’m no longer living in 1996, waiting for my stepdad to buy the huge Christmas tree so mom and I can dance to The Nutcracker Suite while we decorate. It took a long time to turn that page in my book, but now I’m here, writing a new chapter. And here it is: I am present and I have no expectations. It has been years since I’ve given gifts, yet I find myself looking for a personalized ornament or recalling a friend saying that she wanted something. I’m excited to give presents and even though I love gifts, I haven’t really thought about that. Right now I’m excited to give (but if you bought me a gift, I’ll take it).
I thought I would be alone this Christmas, and I was oddly ok with that because I know how to make myself happy, and to be honest I plan on persuading my mom to spend some holidays in Los Angeles. But I was having a chat with my friend (and my photographer) Annie and she’s going to be alone too. Y’all, guess what we’re doing. Christmas Eve dinner with presents and then Christmas morning breakfast. There will also be cookies and maybe a photo shoot (yay new content!). I didn’t expect this. I’m also going with another friend to Christmas dinner. I didn’t expect that, he just asked me to come. What a gift.
I know there are a lot of lonely people on Christmas, and my heart hurts for them. So my Christmas wish is this: if you see that person, ask them what they’re doing. Invite them to your dinner or connect them with someone who is hosting a Friends Christmas. Secretly pay for their meal, like my friend TaraLeigh did on Thanksgiving. Do something for that person who is alone for the holidays, we never know what another person is going through. Happy Holidays.