Last Christmas was a lonely one for me. My older brother went to spend Christmas with his in-laws in Kansas, my mom decided to go back to Maine to visit my 90-year-old grandmother, and my boyfriend celebrated Christmas morning at home with his awesome huge family. I had to work.
At the time, I worked at a movie theater. Because the holidays are always really busy for theaters, we could not request time off and we were assigned shifts semi-randomly. The high school kids and managers with children didn’t work in the morning, so on Christmas morning I had to wake up and get ready for work like it was any other day.
My heart was broken. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. I love being with my family, telling stories of past Christmas pranks, eating Costco danishes for breakfast, drinking mimosas all day, opening gifts. My favorite part is sitting together as a family and bonding over a roast chicken and mashed potatoes at dinnertime. But instead of waking up to booze and cream cheese pastries I was getting ready to pop popcorn and hopefully muster up some cheer to spread for the few who came in to the theater that morning.
After my Christmas fate was sealed, I told my group of besties about how sad I was about missing my favorite part of Christmas for work. We then decided to have our own Christmas celebration after my shift was over, as nobody was doing anything Christmas night. The name for our shindig was not original, but it meant the world to me: Friend Christmas.
I spent a few days focusing all my energy on our Christmas: the stockings, food, treats, and gifts were carefully shopped for and planned out. I decorated my new four-foot tree, and cleaned my house. I made homemade soup the night before my shift, and put everything in the fridge. I was so stoked, and the excitement for the party brought me the Christmas cheer I needed to make it through my workday.
The night was a smashing success. We ate soup, sandwiches and treats, drank champagne and sparkling cider, exchanged gifts, and sang along to Pandora’s Christmas station. We laughed at the hokey virtual fire video that was on Netflix, we danced, and, in the end, we felt the same genuine joy that Christmas can bring. It really taught me that there is no shame in sharing my favorite time of the year with friends, because they are family that we get to choose. And spending time with those you love, even if you’re celebrating with yourself, is what Christmas is all about.
My chosen family is a creative, dynamic, loving, hilarious and amazing group of people who I would not trade for anything in the world. When your biological family can’t fulfill you, chosen family can fill your cup and then some. I know my chosen family is already excited for Friend Christmas this year, and I have a new job that allows me Christmas off. Bonus!