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Holiday reflections

By Janelle Lamontagne

After being diagnosed with cancer, I gained a whole new appreciation for holidays. Every birthday, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas became just a little more special, a little more meaningful — not because of the gifts or the fancy meals, but due to the time spent with family and friends.

Then came 2020.

I’ve spent Easter and Thanksgiving away from my family this year. I am also unable to be with them for Christmas, New Year’s, and my birthday in January. But being by myself on those special days does not at all detract from my appreciation of them. In fact, like after being diagnosed with cancer, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the holidays in 2020.

This year has taught me how to get back to the basics. It was a year of reflection on what I need to be happy. It was the much needed opportunity to weed through all the extraneous, superficial wants that were distracting me from what is really important.

Instead of feeling isolated, I feel more connected than ever with the people who really matter to me. Every Sunday, I have a standing phone date with my grandparents. I’ve video chatted with friends more than ever over the last 10 months. I am connected with my parents and siblings 24/7 via a group chat. While I cannot wait for the day to see and hug all my loved ones again in person, I am so grateful for our deeper connections. I may be by myself this holiday season, but I will never be alone.

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