Five Earth years ago, I arrived here right before Christmas. It was a magical time – the enormous, glittering tree at Rockefeller Center, the sound of carols echoing through the streets, and the warm, inviting smells from the corner bakeries. It was all new, all fascinating.
My family found a sense of belonging here. We would wander the city, marveling at the festive lights and decorations. We found joy in the simple things – sipping hot cocoa, watching children play in the snow, and learning the strange but delightful customs of this holiday. Those were moments of pure happiness.
But last year, the Christmas lights dimmed for us. My father, the bravest and kindest soul I've known, left us. It was sudden, a swift departure that left us with a void too vast to fill. He loved Christmas in New York. He would often say that it somehow reminded him of our distant home, a place we could no longer return to.
This year I find myself wandering these streets with a heavy heart. I pass by the places we visited together, and each corner brings a memory. My friends tell me it's normal to feel this way, that grief is a journey with no map.
So, this Christmas, I'm trying. Trying to find joy in the little things again. I'm honoring my father's memory by embracing the festive spirit he so loved. As I look up at the sky, I feel a connection – to my father, to this city, to the universe. And in that moment, I know we're not alone in our grief, nor in our joy.

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