Looking Back on 2013 on Christmas Eve…

On Christmas Eve, the church has overflowed into the gymnasium at St. Barnabas in Indianapolis, IN for the Mass this Christmas Eve. I cannot find my folks amidst the sea of churchgoers and Christmas visitors. Standing outside both the church and the gym, I thought this would be a great time to reflect upon the true meaning of Christmas, the season of love and giving. Everyone (outside the vicinity of a mall teeming with Christmas shoppers) always seem to be in better spirits at this time of the year. And for those that are going through hard times, there is the hope that fortune will be reversed at this time.

Christmas was built for a guy like me. I love everything about it; and often wonder why we can’t be like this every day, because days like today and tomorrow are good days whose sentiment should be relived every day. That being said, if we need a holiday as an excuse to be kind, caring, giving and loving, then sign me up. And if we need an old man dressed in red to help, sign me up for that too. I love Christmas movies (Elf, Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Love Actually, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th St, The Bishop’s Wife and Diehard are some of the best) and I love Christmas Mass. I love Christmas dinner and I love Christmas trees. I’m a big believer in the role of Christ and the true meaning of Christmas, but that’s just me. Goodness and kindness and giving comes in all forms, no matter the religious affiliations or beliefs. At the end of the day, I just want to spend as much time with my family and my friends as possible; and I want people to spend time with theirs. Christmas to me lives every moment I see my niece’s face. In my mind, she’s Christmas. And the last few days with her second birthday have been the best Christmas ever.

I reflect upon an incredible year, one that has for me had more changes than almost any year before, aside from the year I was born (cos let’s face it, there were a lot of changes that year) and the year I was hit by a car while crossing the street (though quite frankly, that was just an ordinary year until the last ten days when the accident occurred, which goes to show you- life can change on a dime.

I can truly say that where I am today and what I am now currently doing was not even a thought in my mind last Christmas. At that time, I was happily in Chicago and happily working for a company that I loved, Careerbuilder. A year later, I find myself happily in the Bay Area outside San Francisco, just north of The Golden Gate Bridge in beautiful Sausalito, working for another company I love, Glassdoor. I was happy in Chicago, near my family and my friends. Though I am now far away from them, unable to pop over at a moment’s notice, I am now near other friends, still happy, in Sausalito.

In May, I made the difficult decision to leave Chicago while I was in Philadelphia with my family celebrating my sister’s amazing accomplishment of graduating with her PhD. The decision was tough for so many reasons, central to it, the feeling that I was starting all over again, and that I wouldn’t see on a regular basis, many of the people that I love. But in the end, it actually wasn’t difficult. I knew for me to grow, I needed to leave. I needed new challenges. I needed to get outside my comfort zone. And I knew that I needed more in my future than what I had in my present. I knew my destiny needed to take me to California.

I write this post as an ode to my family (whom I have spent the last several days) and my friends. You are the center that feeds my soul. You are the circle that envelops my heart. You are people that inspire me and I aspire to be.

People often ask me why I seem to love so much, to always be happy, to always have a smile, and to always be laughing.

I tell them all the same thing. It’s easy to be me (though I sometimes joke that it’s not), because I get to hang out with you. My parents always impressed upon me and my siblings the importance of the company that we keep. They will either raise us up or bring us down. I wouldn’t trade the company I keep – my family and my friends – for anyone or anything. So you see… It’s easy being me; and it’s easy for me to love, to be happy and positive, to smile, and to laugh. Cos I got you.

Tonight before going to bed, I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” with my parents. I now know more than ever what George Bailey feels like.

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