Updated: May 8, 2021
It was Christmas Eve.
“I’ll be home for Christmas” had been playing on the radio throughout December. I had always liked that song—but this year, it was different. Never had the song hit me so hard. “But only in my dreams,” it echoed, taunting me. It was the first year ever I wouldn’t get to be home with my parents and seven siblings. And on top of that, I had to cover an early shift on Christmas Eve. Not exactly my idea of celebrating my favorite holiday.
I’m thankful to have extended family with which to spend holidays, but we don’t always get together on that day—and sometimes, it just isn’t the same. Christmas means seeing my youngest brother hug his new beanie baby, or watching Little Women with my mom while we stuff gift bags. Telling my dad to “stand guard” while we wrap presents and then later finding him asleep on the couch. It means eating Pillsbury orange danishes to the soundtrack of Celine Dion’s Christmas album. Not once have I regretted moving to Louisiana, but not going home for Christmas one year hit me hard.
Thankfully, less than four months before, I met Krista. I didn’t know anyone in the city. She introduced me to people that I knew right away would be special. They welcomed me with open arms, as Monica Geller and the rest of the gang welcomed Rachel. They gave me advice and sympathy when drama hit; let me sleep over if I had a bad day. And when the holidays came around, they invited me into their homes for good food, warmth, and love.
I may not have gotten to go home, but thanks to my friends I wasn’t alone on Christmas Eve. After my morning shift, Krista and her family hosted a few of us with wine, Filipino egg rolls, and Cajun charbroiled oysters. I remember sinking into her big couch with my wine glass and feeling more at home than I ever could have imagined. We were all smiling ear to ear, laughing and enjoying the warm feelings and respite from the crazy bustle of the world. I felt safe and wanted, and it made my heart light to know that even if I didn’t have family, my friends would always be there for me. And I never have to worry about being alone.
Exploring Together, Eryn