Years ago, I spent my first Christmas by myself, without my family or friends around. I was where I wanted to be, serving as a missionary in the country of Ecuador. I was happy to be there, happy meeting, teaching, and helping the people of that beautiful country. But it was the first time in my 19 years of life, I spent the holiday season alone.
Not alone from people, or my assigned missionary companion. I certainly had plenty of company. And for most of the Christmas season, I wasn’t feeling lonely at all. I was fulfilled with my routine of morning exercise and study, afternoon visits, talking and teaching, and interactions at night with my companion. The entire 2 years I spent in Ecuador were some of the most fulfilling years of my life.
But even still, I recall laying in my springy bed on Christmas Eve, encompassed by my mosquito net, fan by my bedside at full speed, and exhausted from a day on my feet, thinking about my family. I’d spent every Christmas prior to this one, fully enjoying the holiday season with all of its traditions. I come from a big family, so typically they were all there. As presents slowly built up under the tree, I spent the days identifying which ones were mine, wondering what they might be. As a sugarholic, I couldn’t wait for all of the candy in my stocking, or baked goods my mom always prepared. I loved performing the Nativity, as we did for years, each of us dressing up and taking a role in the story of the birth of Christ. We often added our own flare and jokes to the characters, making us laugh as we watched the recorded video later. I remember not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve due to anticipation, waking up early to line up at the top of the stairs with my siblings, racing down when the time came, and coming around the corner to my section of the couch to see what Santa brought. Then spending the day enjoying these gifts, together with my family. I felt at peace. I felt safe. I looked forward to it every year.
It wasn’t until that first Christmas Eve in Ecuador that I started to feel a little lonely. A little sad. Longing to be with my family and participate in all of our family Christmas traditions. I had never spent Christmas alone, and it suddenly didn’t feel right. It felt like I was missing something. While Ecuadorians also celebrate Christmas, it was not the same. No snow. No Christmas tree. Not many lights. There were many things missing from my traditional holiday experience.
Recently I’ve been thinking about that experience and how there are also many others out there who might be in similar situations. Whether for work, school, study or service abroad. Or those that may not be close to family, or have no family and nobody to spend the holiday season with. Or for those serving our country abroad.
Even though there will be many people who spend this Christmas season alone, they are not alone. We are never alone.
And Christmas, the REASON we celebrate Christmas, is the reason why.
With that in mind, here is my latest song. I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas song like this. Enjoy!