In today’s episode, join Jacklyn and her first guest, Alexa, as they ponder being away from home for the holidays. Stick around to learn how to embrace Christmas (or your holiday of choice) during Covid, and to hear some wholesome sister banter.
Intro & outro song: “Christmas Wrapping” The Waitresses
Alexa– That’s fine, I don’t think, I think I’m probably not going to look at you.
Jacklyn– We have a whole blooper reel for this, okay
J– Are you ready?
J– I hate it, okay
A– I can’t I’m turning you off I can’t look at you.
J– Oh thanks, okay. Hello and welcome back to another episode of all All Who Podcast. I am Jacklyn and today we have our first guest. Her name is Alexa, Alexa Walters, do you want like your full and proper name?
A– Just Alexa is fine
J– Okay. Her name is Alexa, and she is my sister. She is qualified to talk with us today because she moved away, when was that? After college.
A– Yes, I moved away in 2014, so after I finished grad school.
J– Wonderful. And that is a qualification because today we are pondering being away from home for the holidays. So, I thought this was timely because, obviously it’s Christmas but with Covid I know a lot of people either can’t go home for the holidays, or they just shouldn’t go home for the holidays. And Christmas is, like even if you aren’t religious I feel like Christmas is one of those holidays, times of year where like family just seems the most important and traditions seem more important than normal.
J– So, being away from home for any holiday but especially Christmas can just, it can be a little sad and confusing and we’re here to provide some clarity. So yeah, you are here today because you moved to Virginia. Was that, did you come home your first Christmas or were you away?
A– I think for the first Christmas… so to give a little bit of background, I moved away to become a teacher. At that time in New York State there were very few teaching jobs so I moved with my fiance at the time, we moved down to Virginia. And, you know, being a teacher, we had a lot of time off for the holidays. So the first few years we were able to come home, but then it was splitting holidays with my family and with his family. So that kind of puts a whole ‘nother spin on it. But I do believe the first year that I moved I did come home for Christmas. So that was still, that was nice.
J– Well, and you’re also, like we’ve talked about this a little bit because of my Thanksgiving which was like my first real holiday away, like you’re still driving distance. So if you ever need to, you eventually can get to New York on your own.
A– Right, exactly.
J– Whereas, well like obviously I can drive. I can. I’m never going to ever.
A– Once was enough?
J– Whell I didn’t even drive that so I can’t even take credit. But yeah, once was more than enough of driving for me. So, and I know that there’s a lot of people too like, even if you can drive into New York, like New York is bad right now. I mean everywhere is bad right now. But yeah, let’s get to today’s proposition, then we can talk some more about all of this.
So, I’m new to this whole being away from home nonsense. But I propose that this is an opportunity to make your own traditions instead of just being sad that you can’t maintain traditions the same way this year. So yeah thanksgiving for me was my first time like being properly away from home for the holidays. I’m trying to think, like I think I’ve missed Thanksgiving for work before like if I had to like work retail, or whatever, on Thanksgiving or on Black Friday. But this year was like the first time that I was away from home not because I was making money. Which it was weird because like when I was working, it was kind of just like a justification.
J– Like Thanksgiving didn’t really happen because I was working, I had to make money, like, that’s just the way of the world. But this year, and especially because Zach and I hate Thanksgiving, like he is not a holiday guy, I just don’t like Thanksgiving. You can listen to my last podcast to hear about that. But that’s what we did, you know like we made our own traditions. I absolutely did not cook a turkey and we didn’t eat stuffing. We actually only ate pie and I think Chick-fil-a. I think that was our Thanksgiving.
A– That’s perfect. That’s all you need really.
J– Right. Exactly. And we watched the Thanksgiving episode of Gossip Girl, and drove through Bel Air, and it was the best Thanksgiving that either of us have ever had.
J– Because like we weren’t tied to those obligations. As bad as it sounds, like your family is not an obligations, but like…
A– No, but that’s I like, I like that word for thinking about… because if we’re thinking about holiday traditions, I do think that a lot of us keep to those traditions out of obligation, not necessarily because that’s what we want to be doing. So I like that you used that word.
J– Well, do you agree? Disagree? How has this like making your own traditions applied to your life, whether you were in Virginia by yourself, or with your fiance’s family, or like anything like that?
A– It’s definitely. So, I guess I want to break this up into a couple different parts.
A– Being with a partner and having to split holidays is its own thing because you’re very used to whatever your family does. And when you are with someone else, they have the same thing with their family. So it’s just an adjustment and it’s making sure that you are, you know, respecting and honoring their traditions while still potentially mourning missing out on your family traditions. So that’s one thing.
But I actually, I stopped teaching, and last year was the first year that I was working in a new job that I didn’t have an extensive amount of time off for Christmas. And that, it was hard because I knew that I wouldn’t be spending the holidays with any family at all, whether mine or, you know, my partner’s. And it’s exactly what you said, it’s a matter of coming up with a new way to celebrate. Because, you know, if for you that means staying in your house and just enjoying your own company, then that’s fine too. For me, I have a big loud family and I knew that I was going to miss that. So it was just making preparations ahead of time, ‘Okay how am I going to face this day? What am I going to do so that I’m not just thinking about what I’m missing out on?’ And luckily down here I do have really good friends so I went over to one of my friend’s parents’ houses and they had a whole big Christmas Eve family thing so it felt very homey to me, it felt very familiar. But yeah, it is, it’s just a matter of what’s going to work for you if you are in a position, for whatever reason, that you are not able to be with your family or follow your, you know, your traditions that you have had in the past.
J– For sure. And, like you said… well, I guess I have a related but unrelated question. So around Thanksgiving I was just very much like, ‘We aren’t going to do anything, we aren’t going to do anything.’ And ultimately like we didn’t really do anything. And it was just kind of that sentiment of like, I made this fucking pie and we’re gonna eat this fucking pie and we’re gonna go see nice things and like do something together, you know. But, not to throw Zach under the bus while he’s not here to defend himself, but he was kind of, because he’s just not a holiday guy in general, he was very resistant to the idea of setting our own tradition. So I guess my question is, do you think that it’s important to celebrate even if you don’t feel like celebrating? Or do you think that kind of, if you’re away from home and you don’t like celebrating then just don’t? You know what I mean?
A– Yeah, absolutely. I think, I mean it’s a cop out answer but I think that it’s important for you to do what feels right for you. For me, I geek out over Christmas. Like I’ve had my Christmas tree up since before Thanksgiving this year because time means nothing this year. But for me growing up like it just, it always was a big deal. And I don’t care at all about Christmas Day, because that just wasn’t something that, you know, my family ever made a big thing about. So for me it’s the whole season. It’s the lights and the music and the movies and the this and the, it’s just kind of the whole season. So for me, even though like now I’m by myself and I’m down here, I still make a point for myself to still do all of those things. I have been watching Christmas movies every single night, I have Chistmas music on all the time, I just was telling you a little bit ago like I have my Christmas candle burning so it smells like a Christmas tree. It just, you know, it’s, I think it’s going to be different for everyone and it’s just what feels right to you, what feels best to you. And I know for me, even though I am alone and like last year being alone, I knew that there were still things that I needed to do so that I didn’t feel like I was missing out on Christmas, even though I couldn’t honor Christmas in the way that I would have had I been with my family.
J– Right. And that’s something that I wanted to get into too, was the difference between being just away from home and away from what you’re used to, and actually being alone. Because I know that there are a lot of people who are quarantined alone, or if they’re not, like I was originally planning on going home for Christmas so Zach was going to be here by himself. And I think, well I mean, being alone for me is like a recipe for disaster. So, I like can’t even imagine. But then on the flip side of that, for some people being away from home for the holidays or being alone would be a dream. Like, I had no doubt in my mind that Zach would be happy and fine by himself on Christmas down here, you know.
J– But also for me, like now that I’m staying here too, I’m going to be away from home but I’m not going to be alone.
A– Exactly. Exactly. And that, so the past two Thanksgivings, so not this Thanksgiving but the two prior, I was alone. I was completely, my partner that I was with at the time had gone to be with his family and I had to work or whatever the situation was. And that, I think that I’m very similar to you in that way. It was a nightmare. I literally just sat in my house and it didn’t even feel like a holiday and that’s the way that I needed to look at it I was like, ‘Oh I’m not missing out on a holiday. This is just any other day that I happen to be in my house alone.’ But then for Christmas last year I kind of felt both. So I was with my friend Kyle’s parents at their house, and it was so wonderful and I was so happy to be there. But then there came a point in the night that I got so emotional and I was like, ‘Okay, it’s time for me to leave.’ I just need to go and like be by myself and think about my own, I don’t know, experience with Christmas sounds weird but that’s kind of what it was.
So it’s, I can completely relate to people that want either. Like I wanted, I knew that I didn’t want to be alone, but then there came a point where I needed to be alone. So I was able to do both. But it’s exactly what you said like, there are people that are very overwhelmed by being with their families and prefer not to be with their families, and that’s fine. It really is just a matter of what’s going to work best for you. But I do think that there are so many more people this year that will be alone or won’t be able to be with the people that they would normally be with. So to those of you, I just say, you know, think about what is going to mark the day best for you. Do you want to just treat it like it’s a regular day? And that’s fine. Or if not, if you still want to make it special, just you know, Zoom, everybody Zooms now. Just do whatever you need to to make it special. For me it’s decorating and eating all the Christmas cookies and doing everything that I can to make it feel home until I’m actually able to get home this year.
J– Yah exactly. Well, that’s another thing that I guess we probably should have disclosed is you are going home.
A– Yes, I am.
J– You actually will be home.
A– Right, exactly.
J– Which entirely disqualifies you from being part of this podcast.
A– For this year.
J– For this year.
A– Right. And that’s the thing that that Covid has blessed me with, I am able to work from home. So even though I don’t have time off around Christmas this year, I am able to still work at my family’s homes so I’ll be able to be with them for the first time in, I believe, three years. So I am very excited.
J– Yeah. It is definitely, I have a lot of petty things that came into my mind throughout the course of you speaking just now.
A– Mhmm, mhmm.
J– And, um, for the sake of personal drama I think that I’ll leave them until after we’re done here.
A– Save it for your therapist, it’s fine.
J– You’re right, I literally have a call with her in an hour. So it’s good, it’s good that we’re doing this back to back. But yeah, kind of related to all of those things and talking to my therapist, I think that for the people who, like me, who aren’t going to be home for the holidays and are kind of fucked up about it. I also have been thinking a lot about my seasonal depression, and I am so, I mean I can’t talk because I’m sitting in California and it’s 80 degrees today and I wish I was dead. But just thinking back and like every time Christmas comes around, there’s always like this, like, it’s like I put on rose colored glasses and don’t take them off until December 26. And everything is perfect and everyone is happy and the Christmas spirit is going to change every narcissist I know into an angel donor or something. And like, I think that that perspective about Christmas and like the holiday season, well I mean first of all, it stems from being raised in the situation that I was raised in. Because Christmas was nuts. Like always. Like my mom can be quoted, I’m going to probably have it put on her tombstone. She said, ‘I’m not crazy I’m crazy for Christmas.’ And that…
A– I just love it so much. I love it.
J– I can’t get over it. And like, sometimes, I mean yes like that was always great for me as a kid. And it, I don’t know, kind of inspires you to get into the Christmas spirit more.
J– But also going home for Christmas as a college student with seasonal depression, sometimes that just makes your mental health worse. Like being in someone else’s house, it’s out of your element, and sometimes your family sucks. Well, a lot of the time family sucks, I feel. I’m very fortunate that my family just drives me crazy sometimes. But a lot of people are in situations where being around family is actually like devastating to mental health, and just general well-being. So I think that this year also is kind of an opportunity to embrace, whatever you have going on and just kind of think like, ‘Whew. Thank God I don’t have to bring my baggage back to my family.’ You know. And like you said about sharing Christmas with your partner’s families. I’ve never ever had a Christmas with Zach, we have never spent Christmas together in, what is it now, four years. Because we both just have so much family going on that there’s no way that we could split it. Because it’s like ‘Who goes to whose mom’s and whose dad’s? And what about all of our step families? And what about this, and what about that? And well my family starts at 9 a.m. and goes until 5 and then I have to go to my dad’s at 7.’ And it’s just been a mess. So, being stuck here this year is just going to give me a whole new opportunity to see my actual boyfriend on Christmas.
And I’ve also decided that I’m going to, well, yeah. I guess now we can slide into how you perform all of this. Because I’ve decided that I’m going to make Zach do all of the Thanks- Thanksgiving oh my God, all of the Christmas traditions for me. So I’m used to waking up at an ungodly hour to cinnamon buns and French toast casserole and sausage and gravy, and all of that nonsense. So I’m just going to make Zach do it for me. Which is not fair to him. But like…
A– I mean he’s an angel and he’ll do it.
J– Exactly. He is an angel and he will do it. So like, and I know that I’m not gonna walk downstairs to a living room full of more presents than anyone has any business ever receiving. But just having that simple like waking up and doing cinnamon buns and watching “Elf” and those little things, I think, is how I’m going to try to perform all of this this year. But I mean obviously there’s no one way to do this. Everyone, Christmas especially, well and the holidays like there’s so much going on. But it’s so individual and like so personalized to everything from… I don’t even know, like what hour you wake up to what food you eat to who you see first and then what you do and, and how you feel about it. I think that I often just kind of assume that everybody loves Christmas because I love Christmas. And I think that when it comes to finding your own traditions if you’re unable to go home for the holidays, it just, it depends on what you like and what you don’t like and what you’re able to do. If you’re by yourself obviously you can’t sit around with family and open presents because you’re going to be by yourself. But like for Thanksgiving I FaceTimed my family and made pie, the pie that Brian used to make but then got too lazy to make so I just did it for myself this year.
A– I think that this is a really good year if you’re not able to go home, if you’re not able to do what you traditionally do, this is a perfect opportunity to take a minute, be introspective, and figure out what it is about Christmas or about this season that gives you good feelings if you have good feelings. You know it’s exactly what you said, some people don’t like this season and that’s fine you know just keep pushing. We’re almost to 2021, we can do it. But if you are someone who does enjoy Christmas, does enjoy the season, just take a minute to sit with yourself and think about what it is that gives you those good feelings, and how you can translate what you have done in the past to this year still get those feelings. And I talked about it earlier, for me, it’s having my tree… I mean really, it’s the tree, the tree does everything for me. I don’t know, it’s just nice to sit and look at the lights and watch my movies and do whatever. But it’s, just take a minute, you know. I think that no matter what, this Christmas is going to look so different. Even if you are with family it’s not going to be the same, hopefully. And if it is the same, take a look at yourself and figure out what you’re doing because we’re in a global pandemic people like, let’s relax. But, yeah, you know, just just figure out exactly what it is that makes you feel good and how you can do that this year, too.
J– Exactly. And I love that you bring up introspection because that’s literally like what we’re about here. ‘Cause yeah maybe you don’t even, it’s something that I didn’t even think about, but maybe you don’t even know how you really feel like about the holiday season. Maybe you’ve spent so long having like the same ideals shoved down your throat that you don’t even know what is up from down and whether you prefer fake trees or real trees, which is also something I would like to get into.
A– We’ve talked about it, the conversation has been had. Artificial trees are the way to go if you have small animals and you don’t want to mess. That’s it. That’s all it is.
J– But anyway. But no like for sure, just sitting down and actually thinking about, ‘What are the things that I actually care to do?’ That’s what we did with Thanksgiving. I like pie and I wanted that pie so I made that pie. Whereas for Christmas, I would love to have a whole Christmas tree. Last year, we set up a Christmas tree, oh my God and we fought. And we fought and fought and fought about this stupid tree. And then Zach asked if we were getting a tree this year and I said ‘Why so you can fight me the whole time?’ And that’s where we stand.
A– And that’s fine. You know, you are learning from your experiences and figuring out what works moving forward. That’s all.
J– Exactly. And we don’t have plans for Christmas yet. Like we don’t do gifts, Zach and I, so it’s probably gonna be a lot of sitting around and looking at each other. But also I know that I’ll have to carve out time for FaceTiming family and things like that. But I’m honestly not even worried about making a Christmas plan because, Thanksgiving we just decided what we wanted to do as the day went along, and it was one of the best days that we’ve had here since moving. And it was, it was about figuring out new things about ourselves. Like we both thought that we hated Thanksgiving and now we can look back at that day and be like, ‘Oh, we did what we wanted it and we liked it? What a concept.’
J– Yeah, I have high hopes for Christmas, and I hope that it goes similarly. I don’t know. Do you have anything else that you’d like to add? Do you think that we left them with enough knowledge for Christmas?
A– I think so. And I just, you know, if you’re sad or if you’re feeling emotional because the holidays do look and feel different this year, just try to remember, you’re not alone. We are literally and truly all in this Hellfire together. And everybody’s just figuring it out day by day. But I hope that you do have someone that you’re able to reach out to. And if you don’t, then reach out to Keeks, reach out to me, and, you know, we’ll talk you through it.
J– I don’t think anyone on here is going to know who Keeks is. That’s me, kids.
A– Okay well Keeks is Jacklyn and that’s what I call her. So that’s that.
J– So yeah, that’s it kids. I hope that you learned something. I hope that you actually do that, too. Like I hope that you really do take a few minutes to sit down and really evaluate how you’re feeling about Christmas. Maybe, if you’re anything like me, you have a knack for repression. And maybe you haven’t even thought about it yet, but it’s it’s the middle of December, and better to think now think now, than be sad that you didn’t do anything for Christmas later. So, I will leave you today with love and a little bit of Christmas spirit. Bye kids!
*The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” plays.*
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas. Couldn’t miss this one this year. (Repeated until music fades out.)