As a child, I was always the goofy and silly one in the family. My siblings got my sense of humor, my extended family often didn’t. This made the holidays hard. I can think back to many Christmases where I would just be myself and my cousins would laugh and make fun of me.
It started at the dinner table, when I was around twelve years old. I was always in a silly and goofy mood; I was smiling and laughing while we were eating. My laugh has always been louder and more obnoxious than everyone else’s, but I was not self-conscious about it, I just loved laughing.
But my my teenage cousin started picking on me. He took the Andes mints from the middle of the table, balled up the wrappers, threw them at me, and then laughed at my response. He just wouldn’t stop: He would make fun of me anytime I made some dumb joke and mocked my laugh.
At first it didn’t bother me too much, but as dinner and dessert went on I started to feel really down and picked on. I looked around and felt like I was the laughing stock of the family. I had thought I was just having fun and being funny. But now all I could think was that everyone else saw me as the annoying little girl who is easy to tease and make fun of.
I think my sister started to pick up on this because she started giving me loving and reassuring looks that she was on my side and that she wasn’t making fun or going to make fun of me. She helped me pick up the candy wrappers that were scattered on the floor all around me so that I didn’t have to clean it all up by myself. She also kept trying to start conversations with me to make sure I felt included.
My sister, as timid, quiet, and non-confrontational as she is, really stepped up and made sure I was okay. I use to dread having to see my cousins on Christmas. But once I knew my sister was on my side and that she would be there with me, those holiday get togethers became more bearable.
As I look back, these instances were a big driving force in bringing me closer to my sister. Even though in the moment I felt dumb, belittled, and alone I see that I wasn’t. My cousin was just being a jerk. My older sister saw that too and made sure to take care of me so I wouldn’t have to endure it alone.
Moments like having my sister stick by me, remind me what the holidays should be about: showing people you care. Now that I am an adult, I try to make whoever I am around for the holidays feel loved and special. Just as my sister was there for me when I was feeling alone and down, I think we all should be helping others feel loved too.