It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Mayson Williams, Editor in Chief

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A hollowness is found in a place where someone else once was. Memories only slightly remembered in a void where no new experiences will generate. A family tradition soon forgotten. A tree that is lit, but flickers. A family once whole, now forever changed.

On December 3rd, 2014, East High senior Tahzhae Burton lost his second mother, Adrienne, at the age of 14. Her love and grace filled his cup past the brim, which was soon left empty. And even now, four years later, Christmas is viewed more as a burden than a time of joy.

“Christmas is a painful time. December is a painful time. It’s not something I like celebrating. I get by with friends, I would say I get by with family but ever since then my family has been pretty distant. We’ll always love each other and be there for each other but it’s not like it used to be,” Burton said.

Burton explains Christmas as forgotten. His mother, Adrienne, was the only one that held the family together during that time. She was the heart of Christmas, the heart of their family. She gave Burton a foundation for the holidays.

“We didn’t have traditions like ‘normal’ families. Ours was just the tradition of being together. So when the heart went cold and we lost her… I put it in the metaphor of Adrienne being our house; so when we lost our house, my siblings and I didn’t know how to get back in. When we lost her it’s like we were homeless. But before she went I knew she gave us a key back into the house. The house wasn’t her, she was just living there. We’ve always had the keys because the keys were each other. We never lost the house, we just forgot it,” Burton said.

At the age of 15, senior Alyssa Armstrong lost her Grandpa, Dean. Anyone who knows the Armstrong family knows who Grandpa Dean is. Alyssa has gone the past two Christmases without the comfort of her Grandpa in the kitchen, eating the food before it’s actually ready, even making recipe corrections when he’s not the one cooking.

“It still doesn’t feel normal. I still feel like any minute he’s going to walk through the door. I think my family comes closer together during the holidays because we all know that it’s hard on each and every one of us,” Armstrong said.

Adriel Ward was 33 years old when he was shot and killed in 2016. Chatiana Ward, Adriel’s daughter, is a junior at East High. Chatiana struggles daily with the pain of her father’s murder. With the holidays coming up this only magnifies the hollowness the Ward family experiences.

“My stepmoms first Christmas without my dad, she just stayed home and isolated herself from family. My grandma just stayed home and cried the whole day. It’s more of a painful time. I try to think of the good times and distract myself from it. I try to spend time with family and create distractions,” Ward said.

Ever since her father’s passing, Ward has been struggling to overcome so many mental obstacles and pushing past emotional barriers.

“I try to push hard. I go through depression and have suicidal thoughts because of everything that happened. It’s really hard because when you lose somebody that’s so close to you, you feel like you cant talk to anyone anymore. I hide my sadness with a smile. I lie to my family when they ask if i’m okay. I just can’t come to that point where i tell all of my feelings,” Ward said.

When people think of Christmas they don’t tend to consider what it might be like for others. The holidays can be a time of pain, loss, and emptiness. “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas” may not necessarily be a song everyone gets excited for. The sides to every Christmas story isn’t just black and white, but not all Christmases are red and green.

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