Missing Traditions

I wish I had some traditions to engage in during this holiday season. Even though I was in prison for 18 years I have been home for two years now. It seems like it’s time to begin building some traditions, practicing some customs. Only, I don’t know where to begin. I feel especially lonely this time of year. It’s not because I can’t be with others, but more because

I don’t feel at home anywhere.

I have been a huge disappointment to a lot of people because I fell short miserably on rebuilding my relationships. As a result I find myself isolating myself from my family further. It seems like the damage is irreparable. It seems like to rebuild is too difficult. It seems like too much for one person to handle.

Consequently, it’s not likely that I will spend Christmas with my children or my grandchildren. I already delivered my granddaughter’s gifts. When my daughter asked me if I wanted to wrap the gifts, I just gave her a blank stare. I remember when I was younger wrapping gifts was a part of the Christmas tradition, something we did as a family. For some reason I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around that happening today.

As I look back I realize the most rewarding thing I did on Christmas day last year was deliver gifts to the women in the Reentry Sanction Center. This year I have added the Fairview Halfway House women to my Christmas list. It always feels so good to give back. It feeds my spirit in a way nothing ever could.

My little efficiency in the transitional house where I live feels more like a jail cell than an apartment. I’m not sure if that’s related to my mental state or the actual size of the room, but I’m looking forward to expanding my space soon. I’ll be moving into my own apartment in 2014.

It’s against the rules to burn candles in the transitional house otherwise I might buy a candle holder and some Kwanzaa candles. Maybe next year.  I’m not too keen on people visiting me in my little space, so I’ll definitely go out this Christmas Eve and stay gone for a day or so.  I’ll most likely end up with my mom. She seems to be the only person who does not demand anything of me. Her love is so unconditional. She is as anti-social as I am. She’s one of those people that go the way the wind blows her without regard for what others think. Maybe, I’ll get a carton of eggnog and go to my mom’s house and stare at the Christmas lights on the tree.

Ironically, I have five siblings and I’m almost certain not one of them will be at my mom’s. At best they might pass through and say a quick hello. A part of me feels like it doesn’t matter because I haven’t had a strong relationship with them up until this point. It really is true that some friends can be closer than family. If I could be with my friends this holiday I would be in my glory. Unfortunately for me and fortunately for them, my friends will all be with their families. This process of learning how to live is a grueling process indeed. Next year when I’m in my own apartment I will start building some traditions even if I’m going at it alone. I’ll get seven candles, and beginning December 26, I will burn one each day.

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About Lashonia Etheridge-Bey

Lashonia Etheridge-Bey is a Public Speaker who can candidly and articulately speak to the consequences of youth violence, the effects of incarceration and the challenges of reentry into society. Read Lashonia's Full BIO Here 


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