I have a request for you, and a simple one at that. All I ask is that you be kind to me this year. Your days are chilly and short, with winds that whip the waves at the beach into a frenzy. The air feels crisper without the humidity, and for nine years, you have never failed to bring my family together. Winter, you’re one of the few guarantees of stability that I have left in my life. Each year, you bring my sister and brother back to the place that we once called home, and give my parents the chance to reminisce on the family they created together before everything went wrong. Winter, I’ve always loved you, and that’s why I have things to ask of you.
Winter, don’t let my family make comments about the food I eat during Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. My favorite time of the year is always spoiled by the offhand remarks my mom aims at me. Last year, the bad thoughts started halfway through Christmas dinner. I was a few glasses of wine in, but somehow a few glasses behind my older brother, when my mom laughed and announced that the next day would be “detox day” after the meal she’d just had. It always starts like that; just a few misplaced and misguided comments that may seem harmless to some, but are deadly to me. The blow was completed when just a few minutes later, I grabbed a cookie, and my uncle told me that he was watching my weight, followed by “Don’t worry. You’re still nice and skinny.”
Winter, I don’t want to spend the few hours of sunlight I have berating my body for nourishing itself. I want to enjoy a road trip to Maryland with my two best friends without fearing how I’ll look in pictures. I want to drink with my family without worrying that I’ll be taken to a dark place, one that’s darker than even your longest nights. Winter, I ask that you keep the darkness at bay as long as you can. Allow me to enjoy the feeling of cold salty ocean water gliding over my skin without fearing for the next day’s meal.
Winter, I also ask that you be kind to my mother. She’s not as young as she once was, and she’s twice as vulnerable to your effects. Make sure that the Christmas radio stations play all of her favorite songs so that I can come home to find her singing in the kitchen instead of sitting alone in her room. Let the air be filled with the scent of pine, wafting from the Christmas tree and the candles that she’s lit around the house. I want her to laugh at the picture of Obi-Wan Kenobi that my brother and I place on the mantle every year, and maybe even admit that Ewan McGregor does kind of look like Jesus. Let her laugh this year. I want to see her smile the same way that she does on a warm summer’s day. Bring her joy this year, the kind that she hasn’t felt in a long time.
I’m not a religious person, or even a very spiritual one at that; I prefer to think of myself as agnostic. I don’t consider many things in this world to be holy, but Winter, you are one of them. Nothing is more sacred to me than reading The Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve and staying up late to wrap presents with my older brother while we watch Star Wars. There are few things as beautiful to me as Christmas lights and holiday music. I ask that you make sure all of my brother’s favorite songs are played at the Christmas Eve church service, the only time of year I ever go. Elevate my voice, let me sing louder than everybody else instead of hiding away. Don’t let the darkness steal me away from who I am this year. I want to stay.
I can’t hide the fact that I’m scared for what this year’s holiday season will bring. Will I watch my mom tear herself apart to try and impress my dad, even when he shows up to Thanksgiving with another woman on his arm? Will my sister tear down the Christmas tree in a rage and vacate the house, only to return hours later in a cloud of smoke? Will the comments about food that my family makes be my next trigger into another relapse that I can’t dig myself out of until the new year? Winter, it isn’t your fault that my depression gets worse when the days get shorter. It isn’t your fault that food becomes more antagonistic with each holiday meal, and it definitely isn’t your fault that I spend days too angry at myself to even leave my room. Recovery is a conscious decision that I have to make every day; all I ask is that you help make that choice a little bit easier.
Another Winter Fanatic