The twenty-six-year streak is over. For the first time in my life, I won’t be spending Christmas with my family.

I moved to Nanaimo from Regina in 2013, but I’ve always made the trip back home during the holidays. This Christmas, though, my parents and several of my five siblings will be vacationing in Jamaica.

The highlight of Christmas when I was younger was, of course, receiving presents. On Christmas Eve, I could never fall asleep at a reasonable time. I’d stay awake, squirming with anticipation, dreaming of Nintendo 64 games and Pokémon cards. My parents have a photo of my younger brother, Logan, that perfectly captures the unbridled joy of opening presents as a child. In the photo, Logan is holding up his just-unwrapped Teletubbie doll—grin spread across his face—with the pride of a lottery winner brandishing a giant cheque lined with zeroes.

Over the years, the importance of Christmas has changed to spending time with family. Visiting Regina during the holidays has always been a magical chance to catch up with my parents and siblings, play with my ever-multiplying nieces and nephews, and enjoy my mom’s incredible cooking.

While I’ll miss my Regina family very much this Christmas, I’m excited about spending time and creating memories with my Nanaimo family. From my friends, to my partner Sarah, our cat Tiggy, and Sarah’s family, I’m surrounded by people (and animals) I love, and that’s all I could ask for.