I always look forward to December. It is one of my favorite months aside from my birth month. The air gets colder, nudging me to keep my spirits up because I know the holidays are just around the corner. As I take my daily commute from school to home, I witness the extraordinary liveliness of the streets I could only ascribe to December. This scene takes away all the exhaustion from doing schoolwork.
People don’t seem to sleep as groups of teenagers roam the streets up until or even past midnight. Public vehicles go the extra mile for more trips than their usual target to take advantage of the late-night crowds going home. I melt as I see lights line homes, structures, and streets. Gold, green, and red lanterns, papers, and ribbons are everywhere. It seems like the city transforms into a Christmas tree.
At home, music plays in the morning or at night. These holiday tunes start or end my day on a positive note. An infectious kind of energy that I could not pinpoint radiates from people. Maybe it is that drive within them that they catch from the holiday air. This holiday air keeps them on their toes so that when you walk past them, their energy travels to you. All these sights and sounds make up a kind of comfort similar to a sweater, one that wraps me while reassuringly moving me to brave the cold with the confidence in the future tucked in my sweater’s pocket.
But 2020 was the cruelest year for many, including me. Every day, I stumble upon frightening news on TV and social media about COVID-19. No amount of face masks could hide the fear on our faces. My trusted sweater could no longer bear the harsh cool air of December 2020. It was cold enough to numb me. December of last year was an unadorned Christmas tree. The holiday atmosphere looked like coming home to the dull silence and mess of your room from a loud party. You do not know where to even begin.
From this stagnancy, I think there was also something in the holiday air that has elbowed me once again. When it becomes too cold, you do not give in to it. You fight by seeking warmth. In isolation, I found warmth in the remnants of pre-pandemic holidays. The familiar scent and taste of holiday food staples put me at ease. Whenever I see Christmas lights and lanterns around the neighborhood, they still move me.
I do miss the noise and the vibrance of the past holidays. It feels like growing up again, dealing with both the glories and pains that go with it. The pandemic changed everything, including the holidays, and I have to live with that reality. I’ve learned how it was also time to let go of this sweater and find a new one. Everything new feels so strange, but it helps me weather the cold. My new sweater is now the camaraderie of people during these times, the breakthroughs of science as it continues to curb the pandemic, and the power of the arts to help us process this situation in our own way, woven together.
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