Photo: Joy is opening a jar of blue legos packed especially for you. I’m grateful for thoughtful, kind friends who treat my children as if they are their own.
I’m sitting here in a quiet room trying to pull together some cohesive Quiet Thoughts. All day I’ve been trying to think of something jolly and joyous, something to uplift and send you off into this festive weekend with something to smile about. I’ve been thinking about all the time and effort I’ve put into this Christmas, the high expectations and the inevitable disappointment. I have already had the pleasure of spending time with friends and family, and I get to look forward to seeing some other dear friends before the year ends. I am smiling and laughing, tending to my children, poised to chronicle their extravagant Christmas with many, many pictures to share with all of you.
Yet, my thoughts have been on my grandmother and missing her. And my thoughts have been on my father and the impossibly hard choice I had to make this year. We all carry so much with us, Dear Reader. We bring our burdens with us during the holidays. I didn’t know I was using my crafting as a way to run and hide from it, but I was. Now I’m here with no more tasks ahead. I have to face it all and I have to find the grace that I haven’t given myself the chance to find. Christmas will be spent without holding my grandmother’s hand and telling her all about her spoiled great-grands. I will miss her laughter, the soft warmth of her sitting next to me during the gift exchange. It’s going to be hard watching all of the adults in my life hold it together while we all think the same thoughts… yet keep smiles on our faces in the presence of the boys. It’s going to be a hard day.
My father sent me and my sister an email last week. He informed us that he wouldn’t be available for lunch tomorrow and he decided he would be traveling on Christmas day and wouldn’t be back until the new year. “It’s best you spend time with your mother anyway,” he declared as if he could bestow upon her the honor of our presence or spare us from some sort of guilty feeling. He sent a package with our usual White House ornaments and an AmEx gift card. “Get my grandsons something nice,” he instructed. I’ll be returning the entire contents of the package after the holidays. I won’t leave a note, no explanation. It’s impossibly difficult, a special kind of cruelty, to walk away from my father. 2016 has been a hell of a year.
I write all of this to say that I recognize that the holidays are not easy for everyone. Maybe they aren’t easy for anyone. The commercials and the television specials and the advertisements everywhere makes it seems like we’re all happy, it’s all perfect… but the heartache and the pain doesn’t go away just because Santa’s coming to town. Matter of fact, pain seems to find a way to amplify itself, double in bulk and cling for days and days. There is a brokenness behind the smiles, a sob so close behind the “Happy Holidays.”
So I guess there are two thoughts that come with this: first, I’ll gently remind you to see people fully this holiday season. Be kind with your words and your sentiments, be quick to patience and grace as you traverse to see friends and family. Second, I’ll gently remind you to be kind to yourself. Give yourself the gift of time: to be alone, to eat well, to mend yourself with rituals or simple sleep. Take thing time to strengthen yourself and prepare for what’s to come. Because we’ll need you in 2017, Dear Reader.
It is the Friday before Christmas and it all has come to a head, hasn’t it? I have to do the hair for my sister’s two dolls and get them wrapped and then I’m done and ready. Two little boys get to enjoy Christmas Number One tomorrow with Grandma and Grandpa. The fact that they are sleeping right now instead of screaming/running/jumping/destroying stuff is a freaking miracle.
On this night, I have wishes for you. I wish you the gift of silence. A time without lights and music and laughter. Just a moment, a brilliant moment, of you with yourself and nothing more. Enjoy it. Enjoy hearing your own voice for a moment. Touch base with yourself before heading out into the world and being with everyone else. Draw a little strength from that space. I wish you sweet treats and finely made dinners, but I wish you hugs and kisses from loved ones and friends. Finally, I wish you a little holiday magic. Whatever burdens you bring with you to these holidays, I wish you a time when they fall away and disappear.
And remember, as you are embraced over and over by people who love you, that you are worthy of all that you receive this holiday season. Your presence, wherever you go, is important and appreciated. You are loved, near and far, and what you do matters.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Dear Reader. Thank you, as always, for reading. I’m taking Monday off, but I’ll see you Wednesday. Until then, enjoy and take care.