The anime “Orange” has a rather interesting “Christmas” episode. There isn’t, in fact, much Christmas in it at all. While the episode starts with the hopes of a Christmas Eve date between two of the main characters —Naho and Kakeru—this ends up not happening. The reason behind this last-minute cancellation is saddening, with the dreams being dashed by a hospital visit. Kakeru’s grandma suddenly winds up very ill and he spends Christmas in the hospital with her.
The above is certainly not what most of us picture when we think of Christmas. Most of us think of Christmas trees, presents, candy canes, hot chocolate, holidays… not hospital, bedsides medical scares and lost family members. For those of us who do think of those things when you think Christmas, I’m really sorry. It hurts to have negative memories tied to what, for many, is a happy season. As I write this, I’m currently coping with the sudden loss of my mini pony. Due to a very sudden and severe medical issue, I had to say goodbye to her unexpectedly last night. She was my Christmas present last year, and this year, I’m missing her dearly.
When all this happened, however, I was reminded of something very important about this holiday season. It’s not about the trees, presents, or any of the usual holiday things. It’s about family, friends, and giving. See, waiting for a vet to come, waiting more to see if the treatment worked, and waiting one final time for the vet to come back and put your beloved animal to sleep, that’s hard. Very hard. Making that call was one of the hardest things I had to do in my life. However, it was not nearly as hard as it could have been. Through every minute of waiting, crying, and trying to cope, I had a fantastic support team behind me. My mom, my littlest sister, and my husband made sure I wasn’t alone for any of it. My mom handled the phone calls to the vet, knowing I was crying enough that talking wasn’t an option. My sister spent just over an hour walking my pony (you’re meant to try to walk off colic) in the dark, cold, and the snow. My husband, not knowing how to handle horses, just stood with me, comforting me. He also didn’t complain about how late he was up with me that night as I cried it out.
Through everything I had to deal with as I said goodbye to Chibi (my pony), everyone around me was giving. Their time, their support, and their energy. Being outside at midnight in the cold is bad enough, doing it while saying goodbye to a pet is worse. Yet, they all not only had my back without my asking, but not one word of complaint was given. THAT is what Christmas should be about. Spending time with the ones we love and blessing them. That may just look like giving them a gift, or it may look like going out of your way for a visit, or it may even look like spending it in a hospital, like Kakeru did for his grandma.
Sometimes, like for Kakeru, or for me right now, Christmas doesn’t really feel like Christmas. Maybe there’s no snow, no tree, no presents, no hot chocolate or candy canes. That’s not what matters – not really. What matters is the things that we use Christmas as an opportunity to celebrate. What we have. What we’re blessed with. We use it as a chance to bless those around us and give back to those who have blessed us. Yes, it sucks to spend a Christmas lonely, sick, or grieving. I’m not denying that, nor saying you can’t spend Christmas as anything other than happy. However, don’t let the pressure of the typical Christmas bother you. While Christmas is supposed to be a “magical” time of the year, it isn’t always, and doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, other things take priority—and that’s okay. After all, as Naho reminds Kakeru when he apologizes for cancelling their Christmas date: there’s always next year.