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Trauma and Death Has Made Me Like The Holidays Less

Be Mindful During the Holiday Season

By Steven RicePublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 6 min read
Top Story - December 2023

Not to be a "Debbie Downer" (no hate to Debbies of the world), but the holidays have become more unenjoyable. Before you call me a Scrooge or Grinch, hear me out! As you can tell by the title, I have had a fair share of trauma and death in my 30 years of life. I believe this has led to me not being so holly jolly during the beloved trio of major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's).

Don't get me wrong, there are sparks of joy, on my end, as I meet up with loved ones and eat everything in sight. However, with that joy comes flashes of pain and sadness. Like most trauma, a large part of mine comes from childhood. Money was always an issue/challenge growing up. Not in a "we need to cut back on eating out this month" way. It was more of a "we have to stay somewhere else for a few weeks until we can afford to have the power turned back on" way. Fun right?

With that in mind, going out to buy a massive feast or loading the Christmas tree with presents was not our reality. I recall one year when my mother simply had no money to provide a Thanksgiving meal, but she had enough for a dozen donuts! So that was our feast that year. That year, we traded turkey and dressing for jelly-filled and sprinkled treats!

Even now, as an adult (kind of), I see how the dollars add up when one tries to provide a Thanksgiving spread. Like, are these damn turkeys raised by Beyonce?! Family time is such a vibe, but I feel there is a bit of pressure to ensure everyone is eating and having a good time. I want to nap and maybe eat some doughnuts.

Besides food costs, the holidays also come with questions. Usually, I have no issues answering questions, but when it comes to the more in-depth questions like, "Are you seeing your family over the holidays?" I proceed with caution. We do not walk around in life with labels of past traumatic events, so each year, there is a huge chance of having to speak about big, ugly topics. Spoiler alert a few of my closest and most talked about family members (in society) have passed away. From my mother and sister to recently my grandfather. So, if you ask me what my mom is bringing to the holiday table, I will give you THAT Chrissy Teigen meme look.

I'm sorry, my mother can not make it to dinner this year. Why? Oh, cuz she's....well you get the point. (Also, I hope you got the lyric reference!) In fact, my late sister passed away just three days before Thanksgiving Day of 2020. Not only do memories of the departed circle my mind heavily during the holidays, but I also have to open back a wound each time someone new in my life asks about them. Joy. If I have not made it clear yet, I grew up poor. As classmates would hope for the newest toys or gadgets, my siblings and I knew better.

My mother was always transparent with life. At the time, in my life, I felt this was not the way to go, but now I am glad. As I grew older, I could see the ugly side of life more and more. It was less shocking each time. Anywho, we knew to ask for essentials over mindless purchases. Socks, clothes, and shoes were always on the top of the Christmas Wish List.

I will say other gifts from extended family provided the "fun" things to play with. However, being the person I am, I would ensure to show my mother that I valued her bargain toys/gifts over any other. I would ask my brother to take time out of his very busy play schedule so we could enjoy one of the big/more expensive gifts from "Santa" that addressed both of us. Which meant it was a gift for us to share. I knew my mother struggled with her pride when it came to trying to give us what we wanted, but that part of my brain clicked at an early age. Especially when I found a local article about my mother on this topic. (A snippet of the article is above. I'm the one on the floor. Am I not the cutest!? You can read the full article here.)

I will say that New Year's is usually a bit less crummy for me. Because a new year means the previous one is over. Even if something as wild as a pandemic might carry over, rude. I will say two New Year's moments from my childhood that stick with me today.

The first (the second will be in my book) was when a very evil man from my childhood took what should have been a night filled with fireworks shows into a night showered with tears.


My favorite dog from childhood was named Lacey May. She was with our family for years and even blessed us with a couple of litters of puppies. Her last litter was born on Thanksgiving when I was in middle school. That is a Hallmark movie moment. However, later that year, on New Year's Eve, she fell very ill. Her body shut down. She passed in the evening.

I was crushed. I remember crying for hours and well into the new year. The following day that man disclosed that he poisoned Lacey with antifreeze. He cruelly joked that she drank it mixed into her water, not knowing how much it would harm her. Why? I kept asking why he would do this. His answer? Because she chewed up something of his.

I know that is A LOT to take in. Sadly, this was not the first (but last) time that he had slaughtered a family dog in front of me. (The other times will also be in my book, duh). These events made it very hard for me to want to invest in a pet (besides a fish) until I was around 23. So, there are times on New Year's that I send out hope that no other doggies in the world are being mistreated.

Now, I do not want readers to feel as if the festiveness needs to stop after reading this. I always share my story/journey in hopes of inspiring others to be mindful of others' hidden struggles. I ask that you don't put so much pressure on the holidays. The beauty should be from the time spent with loved ones and the golden memories made. And that those of us who have not had the best experiences with holiday times go easy on us.

It is sad but true to say if you have lost someone important to you, you will never have a picture-perfect holiday. Losing that loved one does not mean that holidays are not enjoyed at all! It just might take more work and effort to do so. When I need a break to reflect alone, just let me be me! I am lucky to have an amazing support system that surrounds me. My wish is that we all have that.

So, I ask that you be mindful of others during the holidays. You never know what struggles have occurred OR might still be ongoing. Thank you for reading. I hope your holidays are full of the best possible outcomes you need in life right now!


I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into my life. It would mean so much if you subscribe to my Vocal Media profile. You can also follow my journey on Instagram. Again, thank you so much, stay safe!


About the Creator

Steven Rice

Growing up I had many visions of what I wanted to be when I grew up. At times I was relentless on becoming a Power Ranger or a writer. After thirty years, the path that seems most obtainable is becoming a writer.

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Comments (3)

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  • tarun bhattabout a month ago

    thanks for sharing your story

  • Alisha Wilkins2 months ago

    Later in life, the holiday season has taken on new meanings and new lows. I can understand the feelings. Wishing you a wonderful day and hoping this holiday proves to be the positive moment in your life.

  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    Steven, this was very moving. I hope that your holidays this year provide you with happy memories to take forward. I think what you say here is a reminder to us all that we all carry stuff with us that's not always on display and a little sensitivity goes a long way.

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