First Christmas Reflections
Merry Christmas and happy other holidays as well!
A few years ago my mom bought this Christmas ornament for our tree, which says “Baby’s First Christmas” because she thought it was cute. Well this year it has become relevant because it’s my first Christmas as a baptized Christian. Hehe.
I don’t know if I wanna say the weather this year is amazing or apocalyptic because it was 72°F (22°C) in New York, a land where Christmas should be sweater weather indoors and big jacket weather outdoors, and completely dry and miserable without snow. But I put on my shorts and sandals because the humidity made it really uncomfortable, it felt like a rather cool summer day if anything.
For most of my life, Christmas was just a day reserved for gift giving because it’s “American culture” and “we want to fit in.” It wasn’t until I moved to New York did I learn how religious the holiday is, and how many people here don’t celebrate. Because I live in a Jewish neighborhood, Christmas is one of the darkest times of the year due to the solstice and lack of lights. There was one family who put up Hanukkah decorations with the menorah and the Star of David, but otherwise the only Christmas tree was ours. It took 3 miles out to find a house that had holiday spirit decorations like this one.
But it took 10 miles to find a house with very Christian decorations such as this one with a nativity scene depicting Christmas Eve as O Holy Night when Jesus was born.
Since I am a Christian now, tonight I thought about the conflict over Christmas as a religious holiday. Christians are celebrating the birth of our savior, but for others Jesus was not a savior. However, winter festivals were celebrated long before the birth of Jesus, and the festive spirit was present in culture, not religion. The reason we have the holidays is to celebrate and be in each other’s company, which is needed for all humans whether or not we try to deny it.
I know there have been years in my life I denied I needed people, that I enjoyed being anti-social and that I’m an introvert needing to escape from reality every day by writing stories or playing video games. There was a time I tried to cut out my friends, where I wouldn’t hang out with them because I just wanted to be alone. That was the worst thing I’ve ever done to myself. I couldn’t be open to friends when I was in trouble and really needed them.
My battle with whether or not I’m a social person has gone up and down. I hardly have family members because my family’s a victim of China’s corruption, I can count the number of children in my generation on one hand, and my parents were too busy trying to give us a new life in this country to have more kids than me. But according to family videos of when I was four years old, I was the social child who loved being in the center of the attention of the little family I did have and bossed the adults around. I was never shy in elementary school and had lots of friends but being one of the only Asians had its downsides, and once I went to new schools in middle school I was bullied multiple times for being the new kid.
When I moved to New York at the age of thirteen I became a bit of an attention hog in my class because everybody was Asian, I accelerated in my studies, and it was the first time I became close to a boy. I was salutatorian of my year when I graduated, and because of the attention that boy gave me at a time when dating wasn’t common, I became a bit egotistic and entered high school strutting around. High school was great the first two years until I started having boy crushes. I hardly understood what crushes meant, but desired the attention I had in middle school so I told other girls when I didn’t even have actual feelings for anyone, and of course it didn’t go well when the boys found out. But I was too prideful to ask people for help on how to deal with it. After getting played by a boy in senior year I began to tone down on my social life, and towards the last month of high school I shut out even my closest friends in order to escape from it.
But with the damage I did to myself, I obviously wasn’t ready for college level socializing. College was smaller than high school so there wasn’t much in general. I had my close friends but I never tried to meet people, I avoided being in the spotlight, and I think a lot of people thought I must be shy. When I became an upperclassman in college I turned all that around and started being more myself, but I made mistakes, and I think my problem with boys caught up with me again. I’m not actually shy, so I never tried hide myself from anybody, but the unfortunate thing was that my relationships with guys really suffered in my senior year and also once I graduated because I listened to people’s advice instead of being who I am. For months after I became scared to be me, I was scared of social life. And that’s terrible for a social person like me.
I thought I could escape from all of it by going to graduate school. Yes, that was the right decision, but the wrong thing was to pretend I didn’t have any problems, to pretend that I was really confident about myself, to pretend that I was perfect. What does any of this have to do with Christmas? Well, when I decided to follow Jesus, I decided to surrender everything to God and tell Him that I’m broken, that I’m not perfect, that I’m just a weak human who needs His love to know what I’m doing with my life. And He gave it to me. He taught me how to be true to myself, He taught me what love is, He taught me to love myself and love others. He made me comfortable with being who I am, the way I was born, which is social extrovert because a 4-year-old child does not hide anything. I made the most amazing friends in graduate school with not only my Christian fellowships but also my classmates.
It doesn’t mean everything’s been perfect since, I’ve made a ton of mistakes as I fought to earn my place in God’s family, and I’ve been deeply hurt in ways I never would have imagined. I’ve been rude to people who care about me and I’ve tried shutting out people who challenged me. I wasn’t strong enough to listen to God’s words first because I was weak to people. But as of Christmas today I truly believe God is the love we are all searching for and once we find it, we can acknowledge that no humans are perfect and it’s our imperfections that make us beautiful as we try to become better people. We are all so loved and we cannot love without God.
That’s why I celebrate Christmas today in 2015 for the birth of Jesus Christ. Whether or not you believe he is the savior of the world, whether or not you believe in God, whether or not you agree with what I wrote in this post, there’s one thing that is true. Jesus is the epitome of social life and all the people who wrote about him in the Bible saw it. Whether we are introverts or extroverts, whether we like socializing or being alone, he wants us to know each other, he wants us to build beautiful relationships, he wants us to forgive those who have hurt us, he wants our hearts softened, he wants us to acknowledge we all have problems, and he wants us to get through them with each other.
This holiday is for us to spend with people. If you’re feeling lonely, please send me an email, Twitter message, or leave me a comment and let’s have a conversation! We can talk about … the donuts I had for breakfast and how my craving for donuts began as a way to enforce people to lock their computers at my workplace.
I’m going on a Christian mission conference after Christmas to learn more about what I want to do as a daughter of God, and will not be back until 2016, so happy early New Year everyone!