My Dear 10-year-old Self,
It seems like just yesterday you landed at the terminal of the LAX. I bet you feel like an alien – unable to understand the language and the environment is certainly not what you’ve expected – but I tell you, you’re going to get through this. There are lots of adventures waiting ahead. There are obstacles, too, but I’m telling you, you’re going to get through it.
My dear 10-year-old self, I should tell you, your first adventure and obstacle lie just days ahead because you are going to celebrate your first-ever traditional Christmas. You will go on a two-day road trip – from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas – where your new family – whom you’re going to love – awaits. You are going to have a new step-aunt, step-uncle, step-cousins, and step-grandparents. They will love you even though you’ve never met. You are going to have lots of gifts, presents you’ll carry with you for the next 19 years. You are going to ride a real pony for the first time. You are going to have fun.
My dear 10-year-old self, over the next 19 years, you are going to learn many important lessons about life. You are going to learn the only one you can ever count on is yourself. You are going to learn people change. You are going to learn you have to grow up at 15 as Mom would leave for a new job 1,300 miles away and you have to stay behind to take care of your alcoholic, pot-smoker of a step-father.
Yes, people do change.
I know you will look at the man now standing by the entrance of the terminal smiling. I know you are still naïve and have no idea what an alcoholic or a pot-smoker is but I tell you, you’re going to learn soon.
My dear 10-year-old self, you are going to go through a health scare during your third Christmas. That will be an interesting experience, one you will remember to this day.
You will spend your fourth Christmas moving from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas but first you will make a trip to China to see family. During the trip, you will also go to some interesting places like the ancient city of Hangzhou as well as climb the ever-famous Great Wall of China. This Christmas will be one of the hardest. You will say goodbye to your friends and the home you’ve known for the last four years.
My dear 10-year-old self, you will endure drama – physical and emotional – during your fifth Christmas. It will be bitter, sad, and one of the worst Christmases.
My dear 10-year-old self, please treasure those gifts because there will be no more gifts after your fifth Christmas. This will be your last Christmas in Texas and will be your last Christmas with your step-father and step-family.
My dear 10-year-old self, your sixth Christmas will be bitter and cold and it’s not because it’s your first snowy winter in Salt Lake City. Mom got into an argument with the principal at the school and got fired. She’s angry and frustrated. You will find no holiday spirit around but get ready for big changes ahead.
My dear 10-year-old self, you will find yourself alone on your seventh Christmas as Mom’s work will take her to Washington D.C while you remain in Utah. You will have taught yourself manage household finances this year all the while getting through your Junior year in high school with a 3.8 grade-point-average. You will have learned all household chores, cook meals, pay bills, and all things adults do.
My dear 10-year-old self, you are going to make a promise to yourself to get yourself all the presents in the world when you’re capable. You are going to keep taking deep breaths each time Mom loses her temper for no apparent reason.
Yes, Mom will change too. Her temper will glow hotter and hotter like an ember coming back to life in a hearth. There will be fights between you. You will try again and again to run away, to establish a life for yourself but you won’t. I still don’t know why.
As the Christmases pass, you will treasure the time you get to spend alone. Solitude is peace.
As the Christmases meld together, you will sometimes find yourself contemplating on the meaning of Christmas. The toughest Christmas will come in 2019 on your 18th Christmas when you will find yourself sitting in the middle of an empty parking lot on a cold rainy Christmas Eve night and facing the silent treatment on Christmas Day.
You will want to cry but no tears will come. Mom will decide to pick a fight with you where she will unleash some harsh words. This will be the night when friendship matter because your friend will talk you down the ledge. That night will feel like the darkest night of your life but you will get through it because of your friend.
Your 19th Christmas will be the best, the most boring, and the strangest. You will fulfill your promise of getting yourself presents. You will make sure you get extra time off from work. You will get yourself all that you need and try your best to get through this so-call thing called life. You will correct the mistake you made on your 18th Christmas by not giving into Mom’s taunts and antics. You will not sit in an empty parking lot moping. You will do your best to enjoy this Christmas and all the Christmases to come.
Your 29-year-old self,