The letters that I chose to use as stocking hangers on our fireplace during the holidays spell out PEACE.
It’s what I most desire during the holidays.
That idea must sound like such a cliche. But I never really felt peace growing up, and I wanted so much to create it for my daughter.
When I was a kid, my mom and dad fought all the time. I would run and hide in my closet. There, I played with my dolls in hopes to drown out the screaming. In that closet, my safe, quiet place, I made up drum solos in my head, making my dolls dance. But I could still hear my mom’s horrible shriek, “I just want peace!” as she slammed the bedroom door. After my dad stormed out of the house, and all became quiet again, my mother would come find me. She’d open the closet door, and I’d emerge. Just the two of us. A calm moment before my father returned.
In those days of my early childhood, when we lived with my father, we never really had a Christmas tree. Being a Shi’a Muslim, he didn’t see the need. My friends at school, though? They all had Christmas trees, complete with gifts underneath. I was the only one who didn’t have one. It made me feel so different, and I just wanted to feel “normal.” An all-American kid.
Years later, when I finally had a family of my own, I could finally celebrate the holidays the way I wanted to for me and my daughter. The first idea in my heart was PEACE. Every year, I put up garlands and lights throughout the house. And, of course, we get a fresh-cut tree and put it right in the living room, decorating it with ornaments we have collected and received as gifts over these many years. And, of course, I hang stockings on the fireplace underneath the word PEACE.
As I hang up our stockings, I reflect on how difficult it was growing up to feel any sense of stability. But I feel strength in the fact that I was able to create this feeling for myself and my daughter. It’s something that I will never take for granted.