two thousand seventeen

As I get older holidays stop feeling like holidays and I find myself gripping with white knuckles to the traditions that make Thanksgiving feel like Thanksgiving, Christmas feel like Christmas, and New Year’s feel like New Year’s. I noticed this when this past Thanksgiving, my family went to start eating before we went around the table saying what we were thankful for.

It’s always the same things: health, love, family, and the immense gratitude I feel to be pursuing higher education at a place I’ve come to love so much. But every year, my mom and dad get more teary eyed while listing their blessings and I feel my heart beat a little harder seeing (and feeling) the beautiful mix of nostalgia, happiness, and love that fills the room on these holidays.

Because of my request to keep such traditions, my dad was sure to read the same excerpt from How the Grinch Stole Christmas before Christmas Eve dinner that he has been for as long as I can remember.

My love for our family’s idiosyncratic traditions was solidified once more when I spent over 45 minutes doing my makeup to look like Natalie Portman’s character in Black Swan because the Morillo family themed New Year’s party this year was “Oscar Winning Movies” and I thought I could win best costume for once (spoiler alert: I didn’t).

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I love the holidays and I rarely get overly emotional during them, but in the past three or so years New Year’s always ends with me crying. It’s not necessary sad crying, more of a medley of tears made from the happiness to have gotten through another year, sadness for being one year older and closer to true adulthood, pride for what was accomplished in the year, and the overwhelming love that I am so blessed to feel every single 12 am on January 1st.

This year a handful of my nearest and dearest friends from home came over, and in true Morillo fashion they all dressed up (except Megan who dressed as a Lenscrafters Eyewear Consultant). People, I’m telling you, if you have friends that will dress up in a ridiculous costume because it’s what you do every year, hold on to them and never, ever let them go. There’s something truly special about seeing the ball drop, and having so many people that you love in different ways all within a few feet of you to start off the new year with a hug and a kiss. What was most special to me, though, is that looking around the room I was surrounded by many of the same people I have been surrounded by for years. My amazing best friends that I’ve kept from kindergarten, friends from middle school, and newer friends from high school that I have maintained contact with and wouldn’t trade for the world.

Change is good, I’m learning to embrace it a little better. I plan to appreciate change to the best of my ability in the new year; but there is incomparable beauty in consistency. The consistency of little family traditions; the consistency of the friends I’ve kept and plan to keep for quite some time.

Globally 2016 was crazy and personally that sentiment still holds true. I loved too much and lost a few. I became more appreciative of the spontaneity of being 19 and having so much still to learn. I’ve found new passions and shared them with others. I’ve wasted ink writing poetry about people that didn’t deserve it, until I woke up one day and stopped thinking about them. I stopped stressing about all of the things I can’t control in life while learning to simultaneously manage those things that I can. I was sometimes a horrible friend and other times an amazing one; I was sometimes a horrible daughter and other times an amazing one. I became an editor for the magazine that made me want to go to school at Ithaca College. I finally reached the age where I’m offered wine with dinner at home. I embarrassed myself countless times and have the photos to prove it. I’ve begun to see in myself the qualities I get from my mom, dad, and sister. I learned to love my body for what it is rather than think about what it is not. I found a group of people at school that make me sometimes slip up and call Ithaca, New York “home” in front of my parents. I dropped my cell phone many, many times and dropped some people from my life that no longer added value to it.

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I did a lot of things.

2017 will be no different. I will continue trying to navigate myself through this life in the way that feels right to me in the moment. Like everyone else I have goals for the new year: I want to become more politically aware, I want to manage my time and money better, I want to stop eating so many damn pretzel chips, I want to enrich my life in every way that I can and focus on self reflection in order to acknowledge the areas in which I need improvement. I want to write more and share it with others, and maybe if I put myself out there I will find inspiration in coffee shops or on hiking trails or hell, who knows, maybe I’ll find a muse in someone that actually deserves it for once but maybe I won’t and that’s just as okay.

At 19 and 20 we are much too young to put anyone else’s feelings ahead of our own. This is the age of self love and being selfish and not reaping any substantial consequences from that mindset.
Things are looking up, people. Cheers to ya, 2017.

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