Hi, friends. I know some of you were starting to worry, what with the lack of posts and all. Hugs to everyone who thought of me, and who sent notes of caring and kindness.
After a few weeks of Sucky Stuff, I’m starting to feel human again. The torn rotator cuff that caused my shoulder to freeze up (and Ye Olde Fibromylagia to flare up) has been tamed a bit, so I can knit and type and spin again. (A Sandi who can neither write nor knit nor spin is a Very Cranky Sandi indeed.)
I was getting pretty pouty this time last week, though. As of then, my shoulder was still biting back, and the only sign of the festivities usually infesting our home this time of year was this:
That’s our Advent garland. We light candles every night, and then we each hang one ornament (either a glass heart ornament or an icicle), speaking aloud something we are grateful for. Some nights we miss due to events or exhaustion, then we catch up the next time we are able.
The LED lights are weirdly blue; the horrid colour of our rental home’s family room gives everything an odd sickly cast. We can’t seem to do it Every Single Night.
But it’s there, our Advent garland. And we speak our Gratitudes, and light our candles, and hang our hearts upon the branches.
Or at least, I thought it would be enough.
But in my heart lives a Christmas Child, a girl who longs for all the Christmas magic that she thinks lives in other people’s houses, a youngster who is afraid of Missing Christmas somehow, a child who longs for the love and joy and family closeness that the myths of Christmas promise to us.
That child has grown into a woman who always feels somehow that she is on the outside, looking into other windows, other windows where there are Better More Christmas-y Christmases. This woman remembers Christmases past when she was not ill, when she sent out cards, decorated her entire front yard with lights, put up a six-foot Real Tree on Dec. 6 (St. Nick’s Day!), and hung stockings for all the cats.
This woman grieves for the lack of energy this year to Do All The Holiday Things, the lack of children and family to spoil with presents, the circumstances that are Real Life and not a Hallmark card.
And in the midst of this truly lovely ongoing holiday pity-party, my friend Rebecca posted this:
Do not let the dream of the perfect destroy the possibility of the good.
BING BING BING
Listen to me whinge about this and that and not being able to decorate for Christmas and do presents and all that shite.
Those whinges come out of the dreams of Perfection, out of believing the myths of a Perfect Happy Christmas.
Dude…is there such a thing? For anyone? Not bloody likely.
And yet…we can blind ourselves with this Perfect Christmas Myth to the Christmas Good that is already here, now, this moment.
I also want to acknowlege that whining about the lack of a Perfect Christmas is definitely a First World Problem. How selfish of me, when all you have to do is scan the homepage of any news site to see that I’m in the class of those privileged enough to even worry about a happy Christmas.
And yet…this is my life, and though I am indeed privileged, I am human, and my human heart grieves and feels loss, and to treat that grief with anything other than respect and compassion would be to stand on false ground.
One cannot try to live a compassionate life and leave one’s own inner Christmas Child out of the picture. The children who live in our hearts are the source of much that is good about us; they remember love, they hold onto joy, they still know how to play and delight in small things when the grownups they inhabit are running around grinching about the trucks on the road. (Truckers have families to feed. They bring us food and furniture and clothing and nice things. Blessed be the truckers, and may all their travels bring them safely home.)
Compassion starts at home. I needed to find a way to deal lovingly with the mixed-up feelings this odd holiday produces, to remind myself of the Good that is, and to share the Good with those around me.
To acknowledge the Good That Is, I’ve started taking my Gratitudes to the street: I am thanking people. In person, in email, on Twitter, wherever. I tell them “Thank you for being xxx, and for what you’ve been to me, here’s an example of how you have touched my life, thank you so much.”
I think this might be embarrassing the heck out of some folks, because we are not used to compliments, praise, or expressions of gratitude.
I do it anyway. It’s important, methinks. How often do we REALLY let someone else know how they have touched us, or let them know how grateful we are for their presence in our life?
And to take care of the Christmas Child within, I made a list of seven things, seven festive things that I could reasonably do that would help feed my little holiday-hungry soul:
- Put a wreath on the door.
- Hang our big snowflake-of-lights on our porch.
- Put up a small tree.
- Make gingerbread cookies with my sweetie.
- Have hot spicy cider in the house.
- Hang stockings and have wee things to put in them.
- Snuggle up with cats and beloved and dog and watch movies on Christmas Day. (I used to watch the Die Hard movies every Christmas. I got those at the discount store, and a few others. Plus, there’s always Doctor Who and Buffy!)
I’ve done some light shopping for gifts for my love, and have some other Evil Plots up my sleeves for what will go under the tree.
::arches eyebrows: NOT THAT SORT OF EVIL PLOT you silly humans::
We’re going to the Christmas pageant: Such adorable children in shepherd costumes; last year, one of the young three kings was annoyed by whispers in the audience, so he turned around to face us, put his fingers to his lips and SHUSHED us very loudly. Almost died of laughter…
We’re singing in the Christmas Eve choir. We’re having Christmas breakfast with dear friends who have become family.
So now, it’s your turn…my Gratitudes for you.
Dear Blog Readers,
I don’t know who you are, not all of you. I do know that you leave comments that touch my heart and make me laugh. I know that you continually ask for more, and I am so grateful that you allow me to be part of your lives. Some writers can write without anyone reading their words; I thrive when my words are part of an ongoing, living conversation, one that sparks thoughts and builds community and that speaks to other hearts. You invite me to write for you, you give me the opportunity to share my gifts, you give me the gift of thoughtful “ears” and an ineffable warm presence that is very real when I sit down to the keyboard.
For this, and for all the other blessings all around me, I am grateful.
The Chispas will be back next time…