For so many people, Christmas and the overall holiday season is one of the happiest times of the year. Some people spend all year preparing for this time of year. But for many people like myself, Christmas is my least favourite time of the year and I spend all year dreading this season.
As a young child, I loved Christmas. I always looked forward to Santa bringing me presents and having my grandmother cook dinner for my mom and I. However, my love for the holidays changed when my grandmother was admitted to a nursing home when I was seven and it was just my mom and I at home.
Things got even worse when I was made a Crown Ward of the Children's Aid Society when I was nine years old. Living in foster homes and group homes was always a lonely and isolating experience, but it was always worse during the holidays. Sometimes I was the only one or one of few kids left in the group home for the holidays. Other times my full-time foster parents would send me to a respite foster home so the biological family could spend the holidays alone together -- without the foster children around.
I wasn't always allowed to contact my biological mother on Christmas Day either.
What scared me most of all was that my regular caregivers went on holidays and I was usually cared for by people I didn't know at all or had only met once or twice. My Children's Aid worker was usually on vacation and the administration office for my group home was also operating on reduced hours or shut down altogether for a couple of days. Not only was I surrounded and cared for by strangers during the holidays but I was anxious about what might happen to me if I needed help but unable to reach out to my core group of caregivers that I trusted.
Since leaving CAS, my feelings about the holidays hasn't changed. I now live with my biological mother who is my only living biological relative. This is still a depressing time of year for both of us. Yes we have each other, but the rest of the world around us shuts down. Our friends, acquaintances, neighbours and co-workers fall off the map. Others talk about how tired they are from all the turkey dinners they have to attend and the stress of buying so many Christmas gifts for so many people.
What many people don't realize though, is that while this time of year is cause for celebration, it is such a dark time for other people such as those living in poverty and people with mental illness. While some people are struggling to find "that perfect gift," other people are struggling to find where their next meal is coming from. While some people want a new TV, other people (like myself) want the feelings of sadness and darkness to go away once and for all.
So when you're sitting at the dinner table eating turkey dinner for the tenth time or struggling to find room for all those new presents, consider yourself grateful. Please don't take anything you have for granted. What you consider such a normal part of the holidays are things people like me dream about and yearn for.
MORE ON HUFFPOST: