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Bittersweet Christmas

Maryssa's first Christmas with her brother.

Courtesy of Marie Rodriguez

Maryssa's first Christmas with her brother.

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A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth, but I couldn’t help the sadness in my eyes. A boy, a brand new high school graduate, turns and gives me a hug. We may have had our differences, but it’s never easy watching your big brother walk away for what seems like forever. I try to put on my happy face and pretend I know he’ll come back, but that’s too difficult. Instead, I remind myself I’ll see him again, and he’ll come home for the holidays.

My brother, Tyler, left for the Army six years ago. My world changed that day. I no longer had my older brother to go to when I wanted to hide from the world. Never again could I spend hours in his room just watching him play video games. There would be no one to help me when my sisters decided to gang up on me. He was gone; I was here, and now I have to go through this alone.

Every year I tell myself that my big brother will come home and we can be friends again, but it never turns out that way.”

— Maryssa Rodriguez, 10

However, I know he’s not gone forever. Every year I tell myself my big brother will come home and we can be friends again, but it never turns out that way. Holiday after holiday, Tyler comes home and I am reminded we’ve spent too long apart. He leaves too early. We see each other, and it’s awkward. The air is tense, and I am scared I will say something to him that will embarrass me, so I keep my mouth shut.

Tyler left when I was only 9 years old, and, because of this, we don’t have the relationship we used to. When he still lived at home, Tyler had been my role model, the person I wanted to be like when I grew up, but maybe a little nicer. He’s my big brother, and I love him, but we weren’t able to keep contact. He didn’t have my number, and I didn’t have a good phone. Now, the only time that we talk is when the holidays roll around.

Christmas is the holiday I always want him home. Tyler and I have always been similar in what we like. We both enjoy the new technology being produced throughout the year and like using it to the fullest. Because of this, buying Christmas presents is much easier. Whenever my brother is able to come home for the holidays, most of the time he is able to get me something that I will enjoy, and I can get him something without stressing too much about it.

Christmas tends to be bittersweet for me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it.”

— Maryssa Rodriguez, 10

Over the years my brother and I have begun working to make our relationship better, and slowly, but surely, it is getting better. Christmas allows me to spend more time with my brother because of the days off students get. Unlike Thanksgiving, where I only have a five-day break for the holiday, Christmas gives me almost three weeks to spend with family and friends. Because of this, my brother stays for the holidays longer, sometimes he stays until my little sister’s birthday, Jan. 3.

Christmas tends to be bittersweet for me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. Despite having very little time to spend with my brother, I still get to see him, and which is all that matters. I’d rather have these few moments than no time with him at all. We may have gone separate ways but we’ll always be family.

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Bittersweet Christmas