Foul weather, cold days, and colder nights seep into my weary bones, and thoughts of those who have nowhere to go, nowhere to be, and no one who cares pull on my heart strings.
Looking to the streets, I tend to crack open a bit wider this time of year, and it fills me with the pain of the unfortunate—but I am thinly hopeful.
And perhaps a small amount of guilt wakes the shadow of my privilege as I prepare for the holidaze; it is hard to ignore what surrounds us. The empty expression of obligation (gifts to buy) and anxiety of the season can hurt—a hurt from the deepest place in my entitled being. The burn of my conscience whispering in my ear, enough, enough, enough already, yet year after year I question where my loyalty truly lies.
Wrestling with the Joy of the Season seems futile. I have seen desperation up-close and personal—there isn’t joy, and it is a long cry from the sweet smell of cinnamon and pine wafting through the air. The whole spending thing creeps in like a thief and makes me bitter.
I don’t want to feel like this, but I do.
So, I have to be careful not to let the next few weeks overwhelm me, and not to get caught up in “should.” That is a rabbit hole I don’t want to go down, and I remind myself I have to watch where I step—it’s a jungle out there.
What gives me solace is knowing I am not alone, and there are many things to focus on without the background noise of Christmas music—that music makes me recoil like fingers on the chalk board. I do, however, like the lights, the twinkle of color, and pseudo-safety of it all; it holds nostalgia in my heart for a time when there was so much more to the season than shopping.
With satin dreams, lucid memories, and an aroma of promise I feel compelled to reach out, embrace the madness, and get on with it—get over it—because with all the menacing atrocities that have been plaguing our world, how can I possibly choke on jingle bells one more time—especially when my troubles are so very small. I tell myself, Just swallow it.
Shaking off Black Friday—a day that made my skin crawl—I question my own priorities. Where are they? Where do they go this time of year? I turn my attention inward until the salvation bell rings and snaps me back to the land of less fortunate. I frantically search for loose coins—how much can I find in the bottom of my bag or inside my pockets? Damn if there is never enough.
The push and pull has an anxious fervor, one that ignites longings for things I wish were truly real: real peace, real love, real snowflakes and serenity, and a less hectic, more-hot-cocoa-please-with-schnapps kind of feeling.
All that is supposed to be the magic, but as acceptance gets harder and harder I know, we all know, reality is a far cry from Tinsel Town.
Many people get sad this time of year. So do I. I ache for the children, for the lonely, for the broken hearted. My frustration heats up for all things important that are lost. Lost in the mindless dribble of mattress sales, peppermint candy characters parading around like strippers, and the f*cking truck ads that make my head spin. No wonder there is an epidemic of opioids; it’s a way to numb the visions of materialism gone mad.
Gently retrieving my purpose, I remember there are many things I can do to move through the Season of Merry. I straighten my shoulders, take a big breath (or many), and I put grace back in the forefront. This action of non-action brings some reprieve, because there are other ways to celebrate something beautiful instead of something twisted.
It only takes a minute to create a kinder manta and put some joy into someone else’s heart via sharing and caring—duh, that’s what it is all about. No amount of sleigh bells can match an extended hand, they just can’t. And it takes so little to smile in a world that really needs more of it. Yes, I can do this.
So, I will take my Grinch-like cynicism, inject some yuletide into my veins, and get up and do something for betterment. Not in the name of a belief that doesn’t exist in my world, but in a “belief” that has an origin in heart-felt benevolence. Because in there, in the benevolence of the soul, when things are allowed to just be a “gift”—the giving is easy and uncomplicated.
Circling back to the needy, to the sad and lonely, I know what needs to be done and I have a cleaner view in which to work from (which makes all the difference in the world). The resources are in abundance, yet they are also stretched to limit, and I hear, “We can only do what we can do in the moment.”
But the good news is, there is always another moment to fill.
In the cool days and the dark nights I am still weary, and I am thinly hopeful.
Author: Debbie Lynn
Image: A Christmas Story (1983)
Editor: Emily Bartran
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis