There are stockings hung on the fake mantel. There is a tree decorated and lit. Scented candles are scattered about to warm and awaken our memories. But the house is empty, there are no gifts beneath the tree and the cats want to know where their people have gone.
I have been struggling the past few weeks with accepting a Christmas that is not the one I wanted. I have tried every trick in the book: calling friends, listening to music, cooking, doing my “own” thing but none of it has worked.
In part I know this is because Christmas is my favorite holiday and for years was the one bright moment in my calendar. There were years my sister and I cracked out the decorations early because we just “needed” a little cheer. But this year the void is too big to be filled with sugar cookies and it makes me wonder “what am I looking for?” Is it people? Nope I got great people, with wonderful spirit to cheer me. Is it the location? Nope my house is all empty and that would be worse. Is it lack of tradition? We got the tree and the egg-nog going on. Spirituality? And this is the place where I stop and begin to think.
I don’t need baby Jesus in a manger to have a happy holiday (no offense) but I do need a real connection with something beyond myself. I need to have hope and I am realizing that I don’t. I don’t believe things will get better, I don’t believe that I will be fine or want to “go on.” I believe that I will be in pain for some time, that it might get a little better or a lot worse but that it will continue. My Christmas star has gone out.
So what do I do? To be honest I don’t know. I pray; I want to feel more connected and hopeful but in the face of such seasonal euphoria I find my small attempts crushed by a waves of “that is not my experience,” when placed against all the hallmark cards and turkey dinners. So I do what I always done: I get quiet, I go outside and I try to remember what is still good in my world.
The Georgia pines are still tall, bending in the wind. The moon still hangs above me in its path across the sky and there are many people who love me and want me to be a part of their lives for a long time. But more than these, I look inside my heart and feel the presence of hope. Though my mind tells me that it is not there and makes so much noise it takes an effort to hear, it cannot silence my heart.
In my heart I know that God is with me, that I am loved and that I will make it through what ever happens because of those two facts. Even if the rest of my life up-ends its self, these things can never be changed. Thanks you God, thank you to all those who have helped me to remember this though their love and compassion. Christmas is here.