This week my writing room was my living room. Christmas tree is up and mood lighting abounds. They’re here! The holidays. Are you stressed yet? I’m not a fan of Black Friday or Cyber Monday or any of those hyped, super savings, preordained shopping days. So, no anxiety there. My anxiety comes from something I absolutely have no control over, change. When you reach a certain age, holidays, not unlike birthdays, can barely resemble what once was. The Christmases my husband and I shared while raising our boys were full of traditions. Funny thing about traditions, many of them accidently occur. Case in point, one time after we went to the lot to pick out our tree (I refused to allow an artificial tree in my home) we stopped and bought donuts to take home with us. Decorating the tree that night, we ate donuts and because we had chocolate milk already in the fridge, we chased the sugary, gooey pastries down with chocolate milk. The boys were still in elementary school. With Christmas music blaring, a new tradition was born. Never again would the boys even consider decorating our tree without donuts and chocolate milk even through their college years. Today, those boys are fathers and their children have never decorated a Christmas tree without donuts and chocolate milk.
Much has changed since those early days. The boys are grown, I’ve got grandkids by the bucket load, and Christmas isn’t always hosted at my house. I kiddingly always told my boys they had to marry orphans so that I wouldn’t have to share them with their in-laws over the holidays. They would be mine, all mine! Well, of course that didn’t happen, but the sharing did, which has turned out great since I love my kids’ in-laws as much as they do. However, parents grow older, kids grow up, distance separates, and unfortunately, empty chairs around the table remind us that change has a mind of its own.
The holidays bring all of our various changes to a head, the good, the bad, the ugly, and anxiety usually follows. How can I not be reminded of my losses at this time of the year, when my mother, my best friend and of course my husband are no longer physically with me? As decorations are hung and tree toppers are placed, not all sparkles for me at Christmas. I’m not alone in my losses. Half of our world is experiencing sorrow right now that no gaiety or family traditions can erase. So, what do we do, turn out the lights and wait for January 2nd? No. Not a good idea. That will only exasperate our longing. What we should do is give ourselves permission to feel what we feel, but not an excuse to hide or pull away even though that’s exactly what someone like me wants to do.
I must keep reminding myself this season still has good in it. Laughter is still possible. And, most certainly, I can still find love and give love in this season of love. Loss doesn’t change love or our need for it. It wants to, but don’t let it.
I have an artificial tree sitting in my living room now. I also have donuts and chocolate milk waiting for the grandkids when they come to decorate it. Friends, I pray for your peace and mine as we do our best to maneuver around our changes and allow this season of love to be just that.