Fast forward sixteen years. I was on a bus headed to a local mall on Christmas Eve with my friend Sasha. “You know,” Sasha said, “It hasn’t really hit me that it’s Christmas. I know that it’s right around the corner, but I’m not really into the spirit of it, you know?”
Her words matched my sentiments precisely. This year has been particularly difficult for me. I recently graduated from an Ivy League institution—right in the middle of the recession. I’d been job hunting since then, with each unsuccessful interview and query and sending me further into a personal funk. The holiday season, with all of the cheery faces and promises of goodies under the trees, only served to remind me of the joys I didn’t have. Instead of cheery faces, I had to persevere before prospective employers, rejection written in their forced smiles long before I received their phone calls. Instead of presents, I was getting bills that I could not pay for.
I purported to be one of those people whose carnal nature didn’t interfere with my appreciation of the true reason for the season. But my childhood inclinations still shaped a bit of what I remembered what the holiday season was about. I like consistency. This year, with no job and nowhere closer to my future dreams, I felt insecure during a time when everything was supposed to be perfect. The recession just threw a wrench in my life’s plans. It just wasn’t fair, I thought.
On Christmas Day, I went to church with my family. “Christmas is not about the gifts,” the pastor said. “It’s about remembering the One who was born to bring peace into this world.” Later that day, all of my brothers and I took me out to the movies. Seeing their faces and spending time in their company reminded me that there was more to life than the financial storms. Sometimes life is not perfect, but just remembering the blessings I do have is enough to keep me going.