To me, family is the gift you can’t replace

I used to dread every holiday season since I moved back to the city I love. I moved back with very little family to have to celebrate with and I decided to “Scrooge” up and say “Bah! Humbug!” to it all.

Believe it or not, it was my previous job at our local Starbucks that made me realize two things: 1. To me, presents seem to be a substitute for the feeling of compassion we receive from others, and 2. Family is what you make it and who you bring into it.

I have only seen my mother a handful of times through these last few years and my brother, Paul, even less.

I gained a second family at Starbucks, with the partners I saw everyday and some of my customers with whom I built strong connections. They made last year’s holidays all worthwhile.

I worked there both major holidays last year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. While there were those who decided to maintain their usual negative selves and berate us on days we took from our families, we never let it get us down.

Some of our other customers, like Holly Egan, came in with a smile and warm words for us, just to let us know we were appreciated for simply making her a cup of coffee like we did every day before.

My partners and customers became my friends, family and a big part of my life.

Many of my fellow baristas are still there, and I have moved on to the Times, but they are still with me in spirit — especially this time every year.