Dear Fourteen-Year-Old Christmas,

All you ever wanted to do was bang on some lug nuts and be around race cars like the ones you grew up watching with Mom and Dad. You had no idea you’d make history as the first female Nascar pit crew member. But there you are, in the pit, sweating buckets in a fire suit, poised to go, just as fast and just as trained as the men that doubted you could do it, the ones who called you “just another pretty face.”

But we almost didn’t get the chance.

When you and Kole were in that car accident last year, rolling seven times, you both should have died. But instead, you walked away with emotional scars while your sister didn’t walk away at all.

You’ve struggled this past year.

While Kole worked her way out of a coma, you started smoking cigarettes. When Kole learned how to walk again, you went out drinking. When she came home from the hospital, fragile and broken, your superhero sister was gone and, lost and tired, you said “Fuck it” and dove into drugs and drinking and getting into all sorts of trouble.

 


You’re going to do so much stupid shit. So much. You have no idea. You’re gonna put yourself into situations where you think you might die until finally, at 22, you’ll find yourself in Iraq.

And you will realize, immediately, on day one, “Holy shit I am going to die.”

And that will be the day that shifts everything.

When she came home from the hospital, fragile and broken, your superhero sister was gone and, lost and tired, you said “Fuck it” and dove into drugs and drinking and getting into all sorts of trouble.

When you arrive to do civilian contract work in Iraq, it will be at the tail end of years of sadness. Years of rebelling because you didn’t know how to deal with it. And sadness is the one emotion people will do anything to avoid dealing with, including drugs and alcohol and misuse of their body. That is the catalyst for addiction and suicide. We were doing everything but sitting in the sad. But in Iraq, I realized I had to sit with it.

No one ever told us that the sadness after that accident would only be a season. No one told me, “Hey Christmas, this will pass. Until it passes its okay to be sad, but during this time, you have to do the hard work to climb out of it.” I just hoped it would happen one day. And so I avoided the hard emotional work like it was the plague.


You don’t die in Iraq. You find yourself. You do the work and you come out a new person. You come out with the “Fuck you, I’ll do it myself” mindset like all the other women in your family – Kole, Mom, all of them – the ones you should have been leaning on the whole time.

You come home forged stronger. You realize that pressure is a privilege. It’s beautiful. If you think about it, the fact that we are privileged to do all these things in our lives it creates a bigger purpose.

When you arrive to do civilian contract work in Iraq, it will be at the tail end of years of sadness. Years of rebelling because you didn’t know how to deal with it. And sadness is the one emotion people will do anything to avoid dealing with, including drugs and alcohol and misuse of their body.

Listen, you’re going to make a thousand dumb, dangerous mistakes. And I want you to make them, I honestly do, every single one of them but here’s what we learn. Remember it:

Be a nice fucking person.

Work as hard as you can.

Let that speak for itself.

To the privilege of pressure,

Christmas Joye


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