Christmas is generally considered a time of celebration; the season is most often celebrated by sharing time and gifts with loved ones. The downside is that if you don’t have anyone to share the season with, Christmas can feel isolating, easily becoming a heartbreakingly empty time.
I found myself alone one Christmas in pretty upsetting circumstances. I was a teenager, homeless and living out of a backpack, afraid of burdening others, worried about the very real possibility of sleeping in the park overnight, trying to keep working my part-time job and find a solution for the future. I was ignorant of any charities or government programs available and I would mostly couch hop, asking friends or acquaintances for a place to stay for a couple of nights. I’d asked around my social circle about rooms available for rent without any luck and without previous rental history or enough money for bond I was not sure really what to do beyond living in the day that I was in and praying I would have somewhere to stay tomorrow.
After several weeks of this, a family that I hardly knew, invited me to come and board with them and I gratefully accepted. It was in the remaining days leading up to Christmas that I found myself a part of something wonderful. I became immersed in this family and suddenly I was not a problem to be solved or a burden, or a child. I was spoken to like I was a person who mattered; I was treated like a member of the family but given the freedom of the independent teenager that I was, I was trusted to make my own decisions and for once I more than lived, I THRIVED.
I began to see a future for myself, I enrolled in TAFE for the next year, and I, who had never wanted a family of my own, began to want to be the person who could be in a serious relationship as an equal. I found the positive qualities I had that I wanted to encourage within myself and the qualities that I needed to master. In short, I came from confusion and I found hope and that hope moved me forward and gave me a plan for myself.
After just a few months with that family I found a place of my own close to where I would study. And though I missed that family and the connection I had found with them, I had created a better connection to myself and so when things were tough I was able to seek out resources and find help. Meanwhile I fanned the fire of hope so that it would sustain me in my self-belief. My art that had been so important to me began to flourish, and my own personal style was born during that period of self-discovery. I believe in hope, in connection and in people and that is where my bold lines, strong women and intertwining patterns emerged, just as I had emerged from the darkness; victorious and empowered.
This Christmas the greatest gift that anyone can give you is to love you for who you are and more importantly the greatest gift that you can give yourself is love. If you find it hard to love yourself right now, then show love to someone else: a family member, a friend, or a stranger. If you have love for yourself then show someone else the love they do not yet know. For me the Christmas season is about human connection, the light of hope and the love that everyone in this world needs.