My First Christmas in 11 Years

This morning I woke up to this in the transitional house I stay in, which is the Journey Project:

I’ve been Christmas averse for over a decade because celebrating holidays after being incarcerated just didn’t seem appropriate. It was kind of a self-punishment thing or something else because when I would allow myself to celebrate a holiday I always felt guilty. Not to mention that I ended up having to manage feelings of missing the ones I couldn’t be around. It reminded me of everything I couldn’t do, everything I screwed up. So I associate holidays with pain.


Back to the stockings:


I’ve seen a Christmas tree go up in various homes I have visited with friends and family and each and every time I sweat just a little. I don’t want to hang lights or go visit streets with lots of lights. I don’t want eggnog or Christmas cookies. I just want this season to pass. However, let me be much more vulnerable. While this “I don’t want…” attitude is the surface just underneath I am actually feeling that I want to hug my family. I want to sit around and laugh until I cry with my aunts in other states, all of them at once. I want to exchange meaningful gifts with them and cook dinner, eat wonderful food, and enjoy a life with them in it. I want to hug my children and see them enjoy life, a life with me it. It hurts not having those things…


As I Grinch-like perused the stockings all laid out on the dining room table I noticed one strange one:


One for me. I have not seen a stocking with my name on it in a very long time.

This melts my icy disposition and reveals a truer side of me that still doesn’t like to hang Christmas lights but loves to see them light up. I can’t stand eggnog but love hot cocoa. I don’t like the cold but I love to see snow.



wrapping paper


I am so happy right now I could cry and I love the fact that this place melted me right up. Defrosted me with a simple act and while I have a lot to unpack as far as my family is concerned and other loved ones, this is a new beginning.


This Christmas I suggest looking at the ones around you and appreciating them. Give that gift.


With Love

Ruth Utnage