Often when people write about advent they write about the time that they share with their loved ones. Usually they gather and they are happy for the season. But this year, my reality is so different from all of these expectations. When I was asked to write about what love means for the season of advent, I thought to myself that it could be the easiest thing to do. Later on, I started to write this article and I came to realize that I was a sea of emotions. I always wondered what Blue Christmas really meant. As a Honduran woman with traditions built around love and togetherness with my family and friends, I created an expectation that I was always supposed to be happy during this season. I thought of blue Christmas as a foreign idea of a society in which I was an immigrant from and did not belong to. I did not want to associate myself with this reality.
The reasoning behind this was that it wasn’t very often that we talked about feelings. Navidad was meant to be the happiest part of the year - or so I believed. With traditions such as lighting up the Christmas tree, cooking Honduran tamales and torrejas and waiting until 12AM to give thanks. My emotions are however are so far from that concept of navidad. When I think of advent I think of my grandma and her traditions, which in a way created that ideal for me to be joyous. Now as an adult, I wondered if my grandma who currently lives in Honduras and has Alzheimer’s felt like this, but hid it. I wish I could go back in time and question her overflowing happiness during this season and tell her to not hide her emotions. In fact, I wish that no one hid what they are going through. I like to think that empathy is also part of love.
Over the course of the year, I experienced the loss of dear a childhood friend, many changes in my personal relationships, and found myself setting boundaries for my own wellbeing. Through therapy, I was able to understand that in many occasions I had placed the people whom I’ve loved the most before me. During the year I realized what love meant for me. I needed to understand what love meant for people who surrounded me including relatives, friends, and ultimately my own community. How could I be writing a story about love when I am starting to understand what healthy love means? Especially after experiencing what it’s like to lose a loved one.
After thinking about this, I started to question many of the sacrifices that have been guided by love. Almost instantly, Mary giving birth to a child that was destined to give his life to save the lives of others came to mind. For Mary, giving birth to Jesus was probably a bittersweet moment. She understood that Jesus did not belong to her - and all she could do was to love Jesus as much as she could. As a mother, I can see Mary protecting Jesus. Staying up late at night worried when Jesus got sick and being there every step of the way in his life. Mary understood that love was freedom. She understood that love was raising a baby boy that will save others even if her heart was broken. Most importantly, Mary knew that even if Jesus was gone, their bond was so deep that it could not be taken away - even by pain, which Jesus endured in his crucifixion.
After understanding all of this, I realized that advent is a season of love. Love that is present, a love that can be gone, and one that is aching or that is hopeful. Advent is the proof that love sustains us to do greater things. Advent has much more meaning than just the “traditions”. It is more than sitting next to your favorite person, it is more than the gifts and more than love can explain. Advent really for me this year is about learning how to love myself. It’s about learning how to raise a strong child and grieve a loss of a loved one. Advent for me is the time to analyze all the seasons of change in my life and the sacrifices we make daily to pursue love. Through my journey on this Blue Christmas, I want to remember all of those that won’t have that loved one near them to hug. Including the people who are working hard for a brighter future, the ones that never give up and the millions of undocumented people who pursue a dream guided by love.
Advent = unconditional love.
Keren Rodriguez is student at Portland State University. Currently, she is working on her major in International Development with two minors in Sociology and Chicano/Latinx Studies. She has also been an active member in her faith community in Hillsboro, Oregon where she resides. Keren was raised in multiple countries while growing up. This gave her different perspectives and views from around the world. On her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband. You can reach her at [email protected].