That Christmas Eve, the streets of Boston were clogged with tourists and locals bundled in wool and flannel. Shoppers, hawkers, and gawkers whirled and swirled around me. “Frosty the Snowman,” “Let It Snow!” and “Jingle Bells” played in stores; on the sidewalks, the street musicians did their best. Everyone, it seemed, was accompanied by someone else smiling or laughing. I was alone.
The eldest of a Puerto Rican family of 11 children growing up in New York’s crowded tenements; I’d spent much of my life seeking solitude. Now, finally, at 27, a college student in the midst of a drown-out breakup of a seven-year relationship, I contemplated what I’d so craved, but I wasn’t quite sure I liked it. Every part of me wanted to be alone, but not at Christmas. My family had returned to Puerto Rico, my friends had gone home during the holiday break, and my acquaintances were involved in their own lives. Dusk was falling, and the inevitable return to my empty apartment brought tears to my eyes. Blinking lights from windows and around doors beckoned, and I wished someone would emerge from one of those homes to ask me inside to a warm room with a Christmas tree decorated with tinsel, its velvet skirt sprinkled with shiny fake snow and wrapped presents.
我家是一个波多黎各大家庭，我是家里的长子，下面还有10个弟弟妹妹，从小生活在纽约城拥挤的租住房里，在生命的大部分时间， 我都在寻求片刻的孤独。此时此刻，终于，这个27岁的大学生，结束了一段7年的恋情，得到了他想要的孤独，可他却怎么也高兴不起来。我想一个人静一静，但不是在圣诞节。我的家人已经返回了波多黎各，我的朋友都放假回家了，我认识的人都有自己的生活要过。天色晚了，想到要回去那空落落的宿舍，眼泪就不争气 的冒了出来。城市住家的灯火点亮起来，从门窗透出的闪烁灯光仿佛在召唤着我，我多希望有人会打开房门，邀请我走进那温暖的房间，房间一角是一株圣诞树，圣诞彩条将它装饰的绚烂华丽，天鹅绒的树摆上点缀着闪亮的雪花和包裹好的礼物
I stopped at the local market, feeling even more depressed as people filled their baskets with goodies. Dates and dried figs, walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts in their shells reminded me of the gifts we received as children in Puerto Rico on Christmas Day, because the big gifts were given on the morning of the Feast of the Epiphany, on January 6. I missed my family: their rambunctious parties; the dancing; the mounds of rice with pigeon peas; the crusty, garlicky skin on the pork roast; the plantain and yucca pasteles wrapped in banana leaves. I wanted to cry for wanting to be alone and for having achieved it.
In front of the church down the street, a manger had been set up, with Mary, Joseph, and the barn animals in expectation of midnight and the arrival of baby Jesus. I stood with my neighbors watching the scene, some of them crossing themselves, praying. As I walked home, I realized that the story of Joseph and Mary wandering from door to door seeking shelter was much like my own history. Leaving Puerto Rico was still a wound in my soul as I struggled with who I had become in 15 years in the United States. I’d mourned the losses, but for the first time, I recognized what I’d gained. I was independent, educated, healthy, and adventurous. My life was still before me, full of possibility.
Sometimes the best gift is the one you give yourself. That Christmas, I gave myself credit for what I’d accomplished so far and permission to go forward, unafraid. It is the best gift I’ve ever received, the one that I most treasure.