It’s a frigid December afternoon in Chicago and the sun is already setting. Hurrying to my next destination, I only stop to slow down when my furry snow boots begin to lose friction on the seemingly permanent sidewalk ice. Once I regain my balance, I’m off in a hurry again, both to escape the arctic temperatures and to complete the next items on my to-do list.
My mind is racing with everything I need to accomplish before the day’s end. I need to create and send out blog assignments for the next month, I need to finish writing my IT paper on Big Data and the Internet of Things, I need to email my supervisor about a project, and I still need to pickup some groceries and get one final gift for my niece. My mind is moving faster than my fingers can type, internally prioritizing my to-do list and planning the order in which I’ll complete the tasks.
I ask Siri the fastest route to get to Lincoln Park, but I end up splurging on an Uber instead because it’s faster. My supposedly tech-friendly gloves still don’t really work on my phone, so my hand is growing numb in the sub-zero temps. An Uber can’t get to my next destination for another 8 minutes, so I load Lyft to see if it can arrive any sooner.
Suddenly, a car is honking at me and I rush to jump out of its way as it blows through a barely yellow light. I curse under my breath about how people need to slow down before they hurt someone. My glove fell to the ground, so I reach to pick it up and put it back on, now that my fingers are sufficiently numb.
When I check the street again to see if it’s safe to cross, I notice that it’s beginning to snow. Wait, has it been snowing this whole time? Were those Christmas lights just put up this week? I begin to hear John Lennon singing “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” in my wireless earbuds. Even more suddenly than the car that almost hit me, I am hit with a wave of emotions.
Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. It’s only a few days away and I don’t feel like I’m in the Christmas spirit at all, or at least not like I used to be. I think back to my younger days when I would decorate my entire room for Christmas – a miniature purple Christmas tree with silver ornaments and perfectly matched garland around all four of my windows and my beloved Nutcracker always by my bedside. My mom and I (but mostly my mom) would decorate the entire tree with themed ornaments and somehow, magically, the tree would end up with mostly my Disney ornaments. Our giant country home was infused with the smell of the Christmas tree, and our patio was lined with almost 20 stockings.
Now, the holiday season is over in the blink of an eye but growing up, so many memories have been embedded in my mind.
I’ll never forget one Christmas when I was 7 years old, sitting on my brother’s laps, eating my mom’s delicious blueberry muffins and eagerly awaiting my teenage sister to wake up for presents. Finally, at 8am, we could go wake her up from her sassy slumber and annoy her until she finally came downstairs. I was sick that year, like most others, but nothing could stop me from playing with my brothers since they were all home for once. Never mind that they were over 30 years old, they were still sitting on the ground with their baby sisters playing Whack-a-Mole, possibly one of the most annoying and dangerous board games ever.
I’ll never forget the first Christmas without my oldest brother. His “Bah Humbug” Santa cap laid across the chair in place of him and my mom constantly leaving the room to hide her tears. Our first Christmas with our miniature dachshund, Roxi, but it was also our first Christmas trying to understand what it means for a brother to not be not present, but to actually be gone.
I’ll never forget baking Christmas cookies with my sister one year. It was the morning we learned that my dad’s new plane had crashed. I remember getting a phone call from the local newspaper on my flip phone asking about his condition, immediately assuming the worst. Thankfully, he was fine, but unfortunately, one of the men flying it died immediately. I remember that Christmas hugging my family extra tight and realizing how quickly life can change and to never take those moments for granted again.
I’ll never forget the Christmas day that my dad took my sister and I to Paris. When we arrived in Paris, we were greeted with news of bombs, so I had to have my Snuggie completely unraveled and inspected in the airport security. I’ll never forget the crepes we had that night and realizing the world still can sparkle even after the worst of disasters.
I realized how far away those memories seemed and how grown up I’ve become. I have become the person I always wanted to be. Growing up, I dreamt of living in a big city, accomplishing great things, and living a happy, fulfilling, and incredibly exciting life. Life is really, really hard, but I’m exactly where I need to be and I need to be more grateful for that. I need to hug people more and tell my friends and family more how much I do love them.
Life is going by so quickly and I wish I could freeze this moment forever.
I look up and see the crosswalk light counting down, so I hurry across to the other side and continue to load Lyft and see if I can get to Lincoln Park before heading to class that evening. My mind and my heart forever racing, because no matter how cold it gets, you can never truly freeze a moment in time.
“Another year over, and a new one just begun. . .
A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.”