Half-Birthdays and Homesickness

Over the years, my family has formed many little holiday traditions. We have always lived far away from our large extended family, so having traditions helped us find things to look forward to and celebrate. This was especially important when we lived in New Hampshire, and winters were cold, dark, and often seemed to extend too far into spring. Because of this, my mom decided to start celebrating half-birthdays for my brothers and I, a few of which occurred during these colder months. These continued even after we moved to California, where winters are significantly less cold.

To be clear, our half-birthday festivities are not nearly as large as regular birthdays. Growing up, my parents would usually set up a small scavenger hunt around the house, with a small prize (like candy or socks) and our age and a half in dollars (i.e. $6.50, $7.50, etc.). These items were typically hidden in a special ceramic cupcake container, only used for half-birthdays. Then we would eat a treat as a family. As I got older, I would help my parents set up the scavenger hunts for my two younger brothers for their half-birthdays as well. This occasionally resulted in clues or riddles that made no sense or were “unsolvable,” but it was still fun and usually ended in success. Now that my youngest brother is turning 13 soon, and I live in Davis for a lot of the year, we sometimes forget half-birthdays or end up celebrating them late. While this is a little bittersweet, I am grateful for all the memories I have of half-birthday celebrations with my family.  Photos on wall Photo by Vladyslav Dukhin from Pexels Missing family traditions or holidays after moving away for college has been hard for me. I struggled with being homesick my first year, and I still do since I moved back to Davis. This was surprising to me since when I chose to attend UC Davis I was so excited to have new experiences outside my hometown. Davis is only five hours away from where my family lives, so I did not expect to feel homesick. Yet it is hard hearing about my family doing fun things without me and having our traditions change since we are not together as often anymore. I was not home for my half-birthday or Easter this year (which fell on the same weekend), and I was pretty sad about it. However, FaceTiming my family and spending time with my housemates and boyfriend helped me feel a lot better.

Everyone has different traditions that help bring them closer to their families, friends, and loved ones. Moving away from home and missing out on holidays and traditions can be hard, and it is easy to feel homesick. Finding things to celebrate, both big and small, and spending time with friends has helped me feel better. While it is sometimes hard to accept, traditions can evolve over time, and that is okay. I look forward to holidays that I can spend with my family in the future, but also to those that I might spend with other people and create new traditions and memories.  Friends Eating Fries and burgers Photo by Dan Gold from Unsplash