It’s the time for jingle bells and holiday cheer. Though the kids are happy and jolly and life seems so merry and bright... me? You can call me the Grinch. As years have come, the holidays just don’t seem the same. There's no sparkle, no pop. Unfortunately, the magical feeling of the holiday season now brings an unsettling feeling. When I hear “holiday” spending money, family drama, conflicting feelings and loneliness fill my psyche. This ensues immediate sulking and Youtubing for hours. One of the reasons the holidays bring unwarranted stress is because of the travel. This year, my boyfriend and I moved to Atlanta. On top of that we welcomed our pup Lola to the family. The drive from ATL to Richmond is about 7.5 hours and to fly a plane ticket is usually $250. When we fly we have to board Lola and for 4 days it costs about $250. When we drive, it’s just a looong trip. I hate traveling at night because 4 eyes over here can’t see a thing, and as much as we plan to get up at sun rise and drive for the day, it seems that never happens. On top of that, whatever method of travel we take, I never have my car. I have to be chauffeured around Richmond and wait at the hands of everyone else's schedules to do what I want to do. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my family. Just in small doses for a controlled amount of time. Background Info: My little family consists of my mom and my sister and I. My dad and I talk, but the three of them have an… interesting relationship. Since I was little I’ve always tried to mend situations between my family. My goal was to make everyone happy enough to spend an hour together in one room. Though they are all in Richmond, even though im in Atlanta, one person will call me to ask why the other doesn’t call them. Though I didn’t mind being the family mediator, it does become mentally draining. To be the glue which holds everyone together can become very heavy. In 2016, we lost my Aunt to skin cancer. She was the only living family my mom had in Richmond and the only family member I was able to call up to go hang out. Aunt Celeste was a party animal, so fun and full of life. With her passing, a huge part of my family was gone. The dynamic has always been interesting with my fathers side of the family. I think the older I grew, the more I picked up on. Being that my parents are divorced and how it happened, I believe it plays a part in how my sister and I are treated. I base my energy off the vibes I receive, and unfortunately they weren’t the best. As a child, I was forced to spend the time and pretty blind to some things that now I see. As a grown woman I have the choice to not be in spaces which make me feel unappreciated and unwanted; I have too much self value to put myself there. In years past for the holidays I’d visit my mom’s family, my dad’s family, my sister's family, and my boyfriends family. This year for the holidays, my boyfriend and I drove home to Richmond. I spent time with my mom and my sister stopped in from time to time. On Christmas Day we visited my eldest sister's house, after we went home and sipped on some champagne. This sister, is my dad’s first child. Her mom and my dad had her at 15 & 16 years old. The relationship growing up was pretty non existent due to both the age difference and exclusion from my father’s side of the family, but as time went on our relationship grew. Together we bonded over hair, things we have in common personality wise, and our future. It’s great to be able to break down certain characteristics about ourselves that we have in common which we ultimately pinpointed we got from our dad. She too shares so of my frustrations when it comes to our family, but to have someone who understands and validates the feelings is a blessing which ultimately brought us closer. Instead of being upset about situations and relationships I don’t have, whether by the passing of loved ones or by choice, I decided to be thankful for the ones I do have plus the ones to come. After opening up the discussion, I’ve realized I am not and will not be the only person who feels this way. People all over the world spend the holidays alone. One of my higher ups lost both her mother and sister in the same year. Meg Thee Stallion lost her mother and Grandmother in the same month. As we go through life, the holidays will come. It is easy to fall into episodes where we feel down about not having loved ones be here with us. I have learned that our mindset is the most important in deciding how we get though. One of my higher up’s at work, Keisha, had an interesting point. “If what we learned in school is right, energy is never destroyed, it is only broken down or transferred. Our family is not gone, they are here with us. People are not property, they do not belong to us. They are an experience, be thankful for the memories you were to make while they were here. Count the goods, they will always outweigh the bads.” Whether you are alone on the holidays, there is always a shimmer of light in the dark. Find your happy place, and be there.