Having the holiday blues already

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Christmas in a Samoan family. Photo by Victorian Lang

This will be my second year in Chaminade University and for the first time in my life, I won’t be surrounded by family for the holidays. I don’t know what to expect but for sure I will be avoiding family pictures and videos on social media, at least I’ll try. It’s only November and this saddens me more than I thought possible.

With 5 more weeks left of school, work and procrastination haven’t occupied my time enough to “not” miss home so much; with the holidays around the corner, being homesick is an understatement. Trying to choke back my tears while writing about this is by far the most depressing story I have ever written.

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holidays. The smell of pumpkin spice, turkey, pine trees and fruitcake still brings nostalgic memories of a traditional family get together. The hardest part of moving here to Hawaii is being far away from family and loved ones. I feel a little lost because everyone I know here is excited to go home to eat Mom’s and Dad’s home-cooked meals and open presents.

I am fortunate enough to still have one of my grandparents who will soon be 88-years-old next week, and spending every holiday at her house is one tradition that has not changed. Coming from a big family, the house is always full of joy especially a variety of food. We are joined by the hip and do almost everything together.

The halls are decked and the inviting aromas of freshly baked cookies and pie fill the kitchen like a normal Christmas morning. And then there’s 20 of my little cousins fighting over everything, my controlling aunty Tasi pacing back and forth in the kitchen making sure everything is exactly the way she had planned in her head, exchanging gifts after our fat pleasing feast, uncles outside on the porch chatting up a storm and my aunties having glasses of wine laughing uncontrollably about the good old days. After everyone calms down a bit, each family will get together and sing Christmas carols and perform Christmas dances.

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Decorating our Christmas tree was like opening an old album of butt-naked baby pictures filled with stories. My heart melts when I see Christmas trees and decorations. They make me feel connected to those who are no longer here and the past. It feels like it was just yesterday we were spending Christmas with my baby cousin Wali who we did not know would be his last Christmas with us.

I would complain about having to wear matching outfits with my family every Christmas, but I would do anything to go home and put on whatever corny clothes my mom has put together and cherish it. Growing up is all we wanted to do, and we couldn’t wait to leave our parent’s nest for the first time. However, the holidays will never be the same if all your life you’ve been under the same roof with 40 other family members.

This year’s Christmas will be a bitter memory but I decided to look for the good in my situation. I will be spending my first Christmas away from home in Hawaii with my oldest brother, his fiancé and my roommate.