By Grace Cuddihy
A poem about going home for the holidays.
It is December and we must be brave. In times of happiness, I have a strong moral compass, am uncompromising, vocal. December is depression the weather is my sadness dark, cold, unforgiving. My sadness is the holidays with family, I conform. I am washed out, indulgent, obliging. I am quiet because I bite my tongue. I put on a mask with family. The mask hides that I am queer, it hides my passion, it kills me. I compromise in December like clockwork I see my family, I hide myself for their benefit. I accommodate them, because I know they would hate me. They say “those people” to refer to people like me, I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to run away. But I can’t, so I don’t. Every year, the mask is harder to put on. I reach December and I am exhausted I want to stay home. But if I do, then I am the difficult one. I am that family member, the one who does not put on the mask. Why is it harder for me? Everyone else seems okay walking the tightrope of contradiction I am losing my balance. December is a month of loneliness. of feeling different, invalid. But every year has a December, every December I must go on. So it is December, and I must be brave. It is December and we must be brave.
This piece began with a daily writing prompt from the site “Poets & Writers.” The prompt was to write a poem that starts with the phrase “It is December and we must be brave,” the first line of Natalie Diaz’s in “Manhattan is a Lenape Word” poem. The poem began with a free write, and then my mentor and I worked to edit it down to the final poem.
Grace Cuddihy is a writer, an activist, foster dog parent, baking enthusiast, and high school junior. She loves writing personal essays and writes frequently about her experience living with chronic illness. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching Survivor and phone banking. Grace’s favorite book is The Perks of Being a Wallflower and her favorite book series is Percy Jackson: Heroes of Olympus. Her favorite authors are James Baldwin and Toni Morrison.