As you may know from reading this blog over the past years, Christmas and I do not get along that well. It occurred to me last year, after watching a Belk Department Store ad just why I have a problem with this holiday.
The doorbell rings. The house is a beautiful southern mansion, white, two story, black door, columns on the porch, lanterns light the doorway, just all southern charm. A beautiful woman with long silky blond hair, perfect smile, lovely red dress on, answers the door. The guests enter the room, warm and glowing with candlelight, the tree is decorated with gold and red, the table set and adorned to perfection. Everything shimmers and sparkles. The Christmas music softly plays. Packages are wrapped with promises of amazing gifts to be opened and treasured.
I watched these ads as a child and this is what was promised to me. A Christmas just like this. I would sit alone in our living room at night, the Christmas lights blurring slightly as my eyes grew heavy with sleep, and dream of this perfect world. A world I would never know as a child. I would get my mother's nicest china cup, make myself some tea, get some cookies and pretend to be in that perfect world. My own little dream world.
The reality instead was much different, and I won't go down that bleak road. But what we are promised for this ridiculous holiday madness and what we get in reality are entirely different and it is a mindfuck for me every year. This is a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus and it has become a retail race to get to black Friday and spend a month in sheer agony and exhaustion spending money. I love the idea of Christmas, the warmth and glow. The special gifts. But does anyone really experience that?
I try very hard to create Christmas memories for my family, to have a house that is warm and cozy, food that smells good and tastes delicious, gifts that are remembered and special, moments that are calm and peaceful in the midst of crazy. I want candlelight and soft Christmas lights on the tree, meaningful ornaments, quiet music. I want that damn Belk ad. Creating that ad wears me slam out.
With all the effort to make Christmas memories, there are still disappointments, arguments, tears. There is the ache of missing a parent or a loved one that has passed and in our case, also a parent no longer coherent. There are headaches, body aches, tiredness, stress, longing for a past that is gone. There are moments when you think of the world out there in so much turmoil, so much suffering and no end in sight for it all. The people that will be alone with no one to get them that special gift. The people that have to go get their chemo treatment because our planet is a sewer. The people that walk miles for water, have no home, have no families. Where do you put all of that in your mind?
I sat at my kitchen table late in the day, with overwhelming sadness. And I looked outside at the light that was coming through the skeleton trees, the green wet moss on the ground, the shimmer of the raindrops still thick on the branches. The air is warm here, the weather odd and scary. I took off my socks, rolled up the legs of my pajamas, and walked outside to stand in the warm spongy wet moss as my day came to a close. I needed to feel something else. I needed grounding.
I just took one breath after another and chose happiness over the darkness I wanted to sink into. I have been with family members this week that have given in to the darkness and I refuse to go there. I can't help them out of their darkness. Only they can choose the light. I can be happy. I can appreciate the gifts I have been given. I can maybe bring happiness to someone else. I can love my family and my friends and be there for them. That's all I got.
It has been a very short visit with our beautiful child. A visit full of laughter, good food, quiet time together, visits with friends and family, but also times of anxiety and uncertainty and frustrations. I don't know where her journey will lead her, I can't take her there. I can only stand her up. point her down the road and hope she chooses to stand in the wet moss, breathe in the air and open herself up to happiness and find her way, strong and confident and fierce as a lion.
Gerry gave me a new Canon digital camera, so after tonight, visiting with my ghosts, I will lighten up and start posting some nice photos. We had a wonderful day walking along the Eno River. Up next....