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ESPOSITO: Personal reflection, holidays tied together

Author headshot for Laura Esposito
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As Thanksgiving passes and the new year approaches, let us not roll our eyes at the commercialism of it all. Let us not scoff at the idea of joy to the world, of the peace, of the most wonderful time of the year.

This year has been a year of division. Debates of politics, beliefs and religion on a wide scale. People debate, people disagree and it leads to families unfriending each other and friends not speaking anymore. We are all so caught up in our own opinions, and yes they matter, but not enough to cut the people we love out of our lives. 

The year 2019, especially as a college student, has changed my perspective in a major way. It can be easy to lose yourself in the consistent rotation of balancing academics, extracurriculars and maintaining relationships with those who matter most. It is easy to convince yourself you are doing the best you can when you are not. 

You make mistakes. Sometimes you lose your passions, sometimes you forget who you are. So, let this time of year be a reminder. 

Yes, the holiday season is not the only time to make amends. It is not a kumbaya where we all hold hands and feel grateful for everything that went wrong in our lives and all the things we messed up. But it is as good a reason as any to put life into perspective.

This time of the year has been sacred since the beginning of human civilization. Pagans, Christians, Jews, Muslims and Zoroastrians have celebrated holidays circulating around the winter solstice for thousands of years. With the end of night and the beginning of light, the days get longer again, and with that comes a symbol of rebirth and starting anew. 

It has always been a time to be thankful for everything gained, to remember everything lost, to learn from your mistakes and to start again.

There is nothing wrong with maintaining the spirit that has always been there this time of year. To create your own magic, regardless of what you believe or what you are celebrating. Lay down your metaphorical weapons and look around you at this life you have made for yourself.

This holiday season, let us be understanding. Let us realize that life looks a lot different from many different perspectives.

I was home for Thanksgiving break and in one of my favorite places: a little coffee shop that is popular among the locals on Long Beach Island. I took in the scene that I have not seen since the summer, decked out for the holidays, warm and cozy. Plastered against their wall is a big sign: "Pay it forward." 

Underneath it, people can purchase coffee sleeves, pin them up on the wall and write on them what the order is and who can have it. Littered across the board are sleeves with sayings like “iced latte for a cancer survivor,” and “green tea for a math teacher.” Despite the fact that over the summer thousands of tourists flood the island, this time of year, when the island is sparse with only locals, the board full of free orders is always at its fullest. 

People are inspired by the month of December. So, why not take advantage of the season of change and reevaluate yourself? The mistakes you have made, the people you lost, what you have learned and how to be better. Regardless of who you are, we can all be better. 

So, maybe you screwed up this year. Maybe you lost some people you love, and maybe you lost yourself along the way. Maybe you said things you did not mean or overreacted, and cared too much or not at all. The holiday season is as good a reason as any to forgive. 

And that starts with forgiving yourself. 

Laura Esposito is in the School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. Her column, "Unapologetically," typically runs on alternate Tuesdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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