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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Saving guilt for the holidays

Sometimes you want to cry on Santa’s lap


By ANDIE TARABZOONI — rmtarabzooni@ucdavis.edu


I’ve never really felt enticed by the holidays, but I’ve always loved December — mainly because I was born in December. The year ends with all these bright lights around you and starts with fireworks being lit up at every corner.

It’s only now that I realize I never thoroughly enjoyed what December has to offer. I always get cynical and decide to see my year in retrospect. I start to feel my body watch itself as I look over the past year’s history. This always sends me into the spiral of survivors’ guilt.

It could be the most random person, someone I’ve never met or someone I have always known. It starts to feel like disaster is crashing down just for making it to the new year. And while I am absolutely thankful for being here, I don’t necessarily know what to do with it. How do you honor those who have passed while continuing to exist?

As I write this, I hear the news of Henry Kissinger’s passing. It’s added to my thoughts of “Do I feel bad about him too?” Should I mourn my beloved grandma and Henry Kissinger in the same thoughts (no to all of these, Kissinger sucked)? Should I mourn? Should I be happy to be alive?

The truth is, I do not know. I remember when my grandmother died; I yelled on my roof for hours, begging for another fate. Every time I tried to recall the happy memories of that year, that was the only thing that would play in my head. I would think about how I started college and then immediately think about how she didn’t get to witness it.

Survivor’s guilt manifests in such a weird way. It could be an event I had no place in and was not even slightly a part of, but I still became upset. Is it just the inevitable selfishness of humans to try and constantly make it about ourselves?

I consistently find myself trying to find some form of justification as to why these things happened — but I can’t. I love justifying things; I love making things have meaning. However, when I’m trying to wrap up my year and look back on everything holistically, I don’t see myself going, “That was great for personal growth.” No, it just really sucks. We’re real people. I feel like I had to become almost deluded to survive the past holiday season while not thinking too hard about everything that happened during the year.

I cannot find a way to work around survivor’s guilt. That being said, I recommend screaming into a pillow — it’s worked well enough for me so far. But, I have no way of turning this topic into a pretentious analysis of human behavior, and it’s time I accept that life will be ruthless and harsh. At the same time, life will also be kind and generous. And sometimes, both of these things can be true.

I don’t know what point there is to make other than I feel guilty to be alive when others have lost theirs. I feel guilty about being okay when others are not. I have felt so emotionally exhausted thinking about happy families that won’t recall loved ones. And I can’t help but think that perhaps my potential pessimism is just trying to keep a memory alive longer than it should. Is it better to let things be forgotten or to keep them going even once one has passed?

This holiday season, I hope you can remember your loved ones that came before you. Please honor the people around you and the people who have passed. Life comes in phases, and a big part of our lives is the memories we hold. So, let the memories run through, but be bold and take steps for your future. While I feel terrible and cruel for saying this, we should be allowed to exist past our guilt. I do not think anyone is deserving of eternal misery, and I hope that with strength and time, all will be healed, and all that matters will continue to exist whether or not we see it in front of us.


Written by: Andie Tarabzooni — rmtarabzooni@ucdavis.edu


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.


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