This Christmas brought back a flood of memories, some very similar and others somewhat different. It also revived memories that covered the whole spectrum, that is, the full gamut of feelings from very happy to very sad and everything in between.
While listening to Christmas songs, I closed my eyes and allowed myself to slip back to those days of childhood when everything seemed so simple. It was a period of life that afforded an innocence unlike I have ever known since. A time when the bond with my brothers was strong and friendships abounded so that there was never a time when there was no one to play with, be they boys or girls, for family was family and friends were friends and that’s all that mattered.
The wonderful and colorful moments of childhood seemed to be magical and never-ending, yet, the opposite was true and I learned the pain of separation when friends moved away, some never to be heard from again. It was a time when staying in doors on sunny days was almost never heard of or practiced. We didn’t need electronics to keep us busy because there were just too many games to play with brothers or too many friends to play them with as well.
Imagination wasn’t something handed to us on a DVD, it was created by us. Nor did we have to have the latest gimmick to have fun because we used the simplest things we could find to fit our needs. Cardboard boxes provided more scenarios than most kids today can imagine and we were content to use them, changing their uses as they got beat up, bent or soggy from rain.
Family life was just that, family and life. I had the good fortune of growing up in a large family. I am the second oldest child and had the honor of passing down many of the games and ideas to my younger siblings. When it rained and we couldn’t go out, we had each other to play with and the day passed by just as quickly with just as much fun as any other day. Not to say that we didn’t have our bickering, because we did.
Many warm memories come to mind, yet for me, I also have the painful memories of being confused, isolated and most of all invisible because of how I felt. I was different and didn’t completely know how or why, just that I was. I was invisible because no one could see me for who I really was inside. Everyone, including my parents, could only see the physical me and because the times were so innocence, no one would have understood my situation anyway. When I tried to speak about it, I was given a light whack and told never to mention it again --- and so I didn’t. And how could I have explained to them what I didn’t even understand myself.
It is so easy to long for the days of yesteryear, yet so happy that times have evolved in many ways. Yes, there are many things I remember that had been forgotten but there are also many things I have remembered that I wish I had forgotten and let go of many years ago.
This year, I received a call from one of my brothers inviting me out to lunch. I went as my true self, as Chelle, and when I arrived at the restaurant I spotted two of my brothers and my nephew. One of my brothers had not seen me as Chelle before and I know the moment had to have been completely awkward for him; but to his credit, he greeted me and didn’t seem to let my appearance come in between us. For me, this was a Christmas gift beyond what words could ever express and I can only hope that this will be the beginning of acceptance of me for who I am. I had all I could do to keep from crying joyous tears because for the first time, I truly felt that I am not alone. Today, I have a complete and wonderful understanding of myself. Today, I am no longer invisible!
Now I will have even more memories and I am thankful for them all, good or bad, because they have all helped me to be who I am today and that is something for me to remember always.
December 26, 2013