“Merry Christmas,” I say to the CTA employee.
“Merry Christmas,” he replies.
“Merry Christmas,” I call to the two police officers, waiting for the light to turn.
“Merry Christmas,” they reply as they ride away.
“Merry Christmas,” I chirp to the bus driver, my toes burning from the cold.
“Merry Christmas,” he mumbles back.
But it cannot be a very merry Christmas for any of them if they’re working. And it is not a merry Christmas for me. It is a lonely day. I want to be surrounded by family and friends, but for what? Christmas should not mean anything to me. But despite all my (and my parents’) efforts to the contrary, I have been raised on the dream of Christmas. I want the day to be significant, to compete with all the moments of waking up excited and opening presents. I want to eat the best Chinese food I have ever tasted and see a movie that makes me forget that it is Christmas. Mostly, I want to not care. I walk down the street, every street, and see trees lighting up dark homes. And I can never fully be a part of all the expectation and joy of it.