Something to Celebrate
The holidays are a complex time of the year for me. My parents divorced when I was very young, so I never had a traditional “happy-family” Christmas. My father made this worse. He was a difficult man, emotionally controlling and verbally abusive. Christmas with him was about manipulation through presents and one-upping my mother. There was a rule that we had to ask permission from him to move any presents he gave us from his house to hers. A rule my brother and I abided by because we didn’t want our presents taken away or left behind. So we’d spend our Christmas negotiating for toys, being carted between our parents’ homes and the relatives we didn’t want to see, and hearing about the other relatives we weren’t seeing and why that should make us feel bad. And for almost half of my life, that was Christmas.
But it didn’t feel like Christmas. Not movie-Christmas, or greeting-card-Christmas, or even the kind my friends had. It felt like a chore, a parade, and a hostage situation rolled into one glittery mess and topped with a bow. My favorite part of it was the day after, when it was over.
As a (mostly) independent adult, I have been working to reclaim the holidays for myself, in my own way. I’ve distanced myself both from the toxically high expectations of traditional Christmas that media gave me and from my relatives. Instead, I try to appreciate the season as a whole, and all the joy and wonder this time of year brings. This has been a better and more healing experience for me personally, and it is reflected in my treatment of the holidays in Something to Celebrate.
Niko and Fan, like myself, have an outsider’s view of the holidays. They both feel alone at a time of year that emphasizes togetherness, and both want to be part of something they cannot put into words. Niko never wanted a traditional Christmas and Fan doesn’t even know what that means. Between the two of them, they might just find their own kind of holiday magic.
There is a feeling I tried to capture throughout the story, a feeling of wanting to celebrate not for the sake of the holiday, but for the sake of the celebration itself, and the sense of belonging that it brings. Because I do think the holidays can bring people together. It’s just better when it happens naturally (or supernaturally).