Heiligabend or Holy Night

It’s interesting how fast the three decades of my life have passed. I remember how two decades ago I would look forward to Christmas Eve; that’s when people in Northern Germany (and in other countries) celebrate Christmas. You get to open the presents already, and I used to love it. My parents’ friends and their kids would come to our place and hang out. My dad would cook a big Chinese dinner for about 15 people.

Thinking about these days, I can only picture everyone laughing and having a good time. Every year I would be looking forward to Christmas because New Year’s Eve would be around the corner.

In Germany, it’s common to have fireworks all night from midnight. My dad used to buy three-meter-long firecrackers that would start from the ground and go all the way up the tree. (Cruel if I think about it now.)

Before midnight my sister and I would have a nap, usually from seven or eight p.m. until 10 p.m., when the New Year’s Eve dinner would be ready. My cousins would be there, too, and before the nap, we would play games. We would schedule games and divide them into video games, board games, and imaginary games.

After Nintendo and other video games, I loved playing imaginary games. We pretended that we were orphans, chose our own names and gender and would imagine my room or my sister’s room to be a cave or the home of an abusive family, or the woods or school, anything. We would use blankets to build a fort.

I had a lot of fun back then, knowing that I was free and could truly be me, unlike in real-life school. My family has always been the most important to me. I admit that I felt closer to other Asian kids as they didn’t make me feel ostracized, and I was more open to them, too.

Back in real-life school, where white kids surrounded me, I had a lot of trouble adapting, despite their effort to make friends with me. I mean, they tried, but I didn’t try hard enough. Moreover, I didn’t let them in. Something didn’t feel right.

I always thought it was my skin colour, my elongated eyes, although it had nothing to do with my race and outward appearance in the end. It was just all in my head and nowhere else. And in my head, it all remained. (At least this is how I feel about it now.)

The lack of self-esteem evolved into anxiety, and anxiety developed depression and panic. On another note, I couldn’t accept being different, character-wise, personality-wise.

The only channel of release that I found was on blank paper, which I still call the white sea. All the wishful thinking, self-pity and other emotions would go there. No one understood the relief that it brought upon me.

Other than relief, there was a sense of accomplishment that inspired me to become a writer. From that moment onward, I’d always known what I wanted to be, even now. It has been the only thing keeping me from losing control over my emotions. Since then, I’ve always known what I wanted; even now, it’s just ridiculous to share with others, no matter how close they are to me. The only problem is me not working hard enough to get what I want. Self-esteem may be a part of it, and knowing how much of it I need. I built a lot of self-esteem at university. Now that I’m no longer studying, it’s almost three times as hard.

My brain wanders off; my heart is empty with no fiction…

I’ve been called a melancholic for staring at the ground and for dwelling in the past. I never had a problem with that until now because the melancholy brings no inspiration and no form of release anymore.

My mind is overfed with apathy making it feel like I was back on antidepressants, which I’m not. Sometimes I wish I was, and then I overdose on Bach’s rescue drops because fitness isn’t enough. Or I’m not working out hard enough. Peace of mind needs time and epiphanic moments.

Gods will make you wait. Or maybe not; it all depends on you and how long it takes for you to overcome stupidity.

I reflect a lot during Christmas and New Year’s. I try to pin down the moments when I was still happy and unaware of life’s predicaments, and then I try to mark the sharp corners where I derailed and crashed.

I hardly have anything to share in conversations, and I wish people would leave me alone. However, I can’t tell this anyone. I’ve been trying to veil underneath a second skin, which is killing me, and I admit I’m not talented at hiding. You wonder what else you can do apart from keeping your mouth shut and living out the introvert that you are. That’s when I fall headlong into a dilemma. I think about John the Savage from Brave New World, whom I admire, and on other days, I would kill for something like soma.

My mother did ruin Christmas for me when I was around 15 or 16. I still had the Christmas spirit, but my parents didn’t. During the period when my mum’s OCD reached a peak, she couldn’t stop vacuuming every day. I remember asking her not to clean on Christmas Eve, but of course, she vacuumed. I slammed my bedroom door shut and started writing a short story – one that brought me to tears. That’s how pathetic I was. What matters is it helped me regulate my emotions. I was no longer mad at my mum. Though, ever since then, Christmas began to lose meaning year after year.

I remember spending Christmas all by myself in High Wycombe a decade ago. All my roommates have gone home, and I had the house to myself. I loved it. I LOVED it. I read about three books during that Christmas. I couldn’t have self-educated myself in any better way.

But as I said, Christmas became ordinary, and the only sweet thing about it was caramelized almonds at German Christmas Markets. I do look for things that keep me happy during the season. And this year it’s my boy and apple pie. Although I know that things will always change and have some effect on me, I’m ok. I can make caramelized almonds myself.

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