Not a Merry Christmas

Holiday season can be a difficult time for many

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — but not for everyone.

“It used to be a happy time,” senior Andrea Ramirez said. Being over 3,000 miles away from her parents, Christmas for her is far from merry. “My parents are in El Salvador and I’m here.”
Moving to the United States with her older brother two years ago, she expresses her extreme sadness and reminisces about the past holidays with her family.

“Last year was the first Christmas I wasn’t with my dad,” she said. “I don’t know if my parents are coming to visit this year. It makes me really sad thinking about it.”

Senior Sal Hernandez has that same desire to see his family during the holidays. “I don’t live with my family,” Hernandez said. “I live in a group home with eight other boys.”
He hasn’t spent the holidays with his family for three years. He’s grateful for the donations that his group home gets. “Just yesterday the Stockton Heat came for a toy drive.”
Although Hernandez is grateful for his group home family, he’s still affected a lot. “It hits you harder during the holidays because everybody else is with their family.”
Chaos. That is how junior Destiny Allen describes Christmas.

“I have to go to multiple places,” she said. “My family is really divided. Living with her grandmother is not ideal, Allen said.“My grandma is bipolar.”
Going through episodes of depression and manias, her grandmother is unpredictable and aggressive. “The holidays trigger her episodes since a lot of people are around.”
Being under the care of her grandmother her whole life, Allen has never enjoyed the holidays. “When my grandma is in a mania she has OCD and wants to clean everything, which makes everyone uncomfortable.”

The holidays have improved for her recently. “Now that my mom is around holidays are tolerable but still not completely enjoyable.”
Healthy Start Coordinator Christiane Highfill said that it is extremely common for depression rates to increase during this time of the year. “Seasonal depression is an actual diagnosis and it does spike during the holiday season.”

Highfill recommends that one should find a trustworthy family member or friend to talk about what’s happening.
“Students may also self-refer themselves to the school’s therapist.” Students can go to Healthy Start and pick up a form and after they turn it in an appointment with the school’s therapist will be made.

“I come from a divorced family,” senior Emily Watterson said. “It’s not like the traditional family together around the Christmas tree.” With her mother not being in the picture she lives with only her dad. While her father is around she explains how they don’t have a normal father-daughter relationship.

“I support myself,” she said. “My dad doesn’t treat me like a daughter. He treats me more like a roommate almost because I pay rent and do everything myself.”
Not experiencing the holiday cheer or the opening of gifts on Christmas, she says that there is nothing happy about it. Seeing other kids her age have a close relationship with their family and create long-lasting memories during the holidays makes her wish she had what they had.

“I don’t think the word is jealous. The holidays just make me crave what other people have. I don’t get that. I haven’t had that at all in my entire life.”
Knowing her situation, this time of year makes her more aware of her state of independence at such a young age.

“The holidays are a reminder that I’m not perfect. Christmas is just one of those holidays that reminds me again, I’m on my own.”