I’m not unique in this – the holiday season resurrects so much more than Jesus Christ at Easter. Wow! I also may not be unique in being thankful that (most of) the hoopla is over; again…wow! Don’t misunderstand, I love me some Christmas! In fact, I simply love any occasion that calls for getting dressed up, going shopping, getting/giving presents, folks you like getting together and well, food and alcohol. But the truth is, along with the festive spirit that is infused in seasons such as this, is the resurrection of feelings of loss, pain and loneliness. Heartache. For so many, while most are celebrating, enjoying and indulging, they are struggling, grieving and imploding. Give me a few moments here… let’s address this.
I was honored to be the guest at a holiday celebration on Saturday where, one of the forms of entertainment was a spoken-word/musical artist. At first glance/listen my impression of him was that he was a little “weird” – not in that let-me-lock-up-my-child kinda weird, but the artistic kinda weird. Anywho, I decided to reserve my permanent judgement (because let’s face it… that’s what we do, no matter what we call it) until after his performance. Fast-forward… after his performance I still do consider him “weird” but now I also have another description – heartbroken. What struck me from his performance is not his exposure through song of his heartache, but that that was what he chose to perform at this holiday celebration. Then it started me thinking – if Saturday were any random Saturday – say, in August, maybe what he chose to express would have been different; but Saturday was the day after Christmas, smack dab in the midst of what for some, is the happiest time of the year and certainly for others, the most painful. You see, very few things magnify pain, like joy. Few things isolate in loneliness, like togetherness.
Have you ever taken the time, while at any sort of celebration or social event to sit back and observe those around you? I don’t mean in the very superficial way of checking out the shoes, bags or outfits, or the equally unimportant way of sitting back and watching the ‘tricks’ of who is doing what with whom. I mean in the way that matters – truly looking at what’s beneath the smiles people offer or behind their eyes. Have you ever, instead of passing judgment because, “Do you see how much she’s drinking?” tried to determine just what is behind her need to drink that much that fast? Have you ever taken a step outside of yourself to wonder what would make a man entertain with a song that speaks so poignantly of his personal loss?
I had a great holiday weekend; the only thing wrong with it was how quickly it passed. But even as I enjoyed the laughter, conversation and moments, as I basked in the security of love, I admit to having those moments that threatened to pull me back to a place of sadness. Moments that attempted to have my present (and not the one wrapped and under the tree) be bulldozed by my past. Realities that have already done their job in shaping me, but never in defining me. So yes, I absofuckinglutely understand the pull; I acknowledge the strength the heightened emotions of this holiday season has. I recognize the havoc it can wreak.
I listen. Not just to those around me, but I also listen to myself. I “check in” to see how I am doing and never, ever lie to myself (or to you for that matter!). I freely give the laughter and love and respect the shit out of the tears! I hide from nothing and stand up to anything. I fall; I get up. I bend; I refuse to break. I make mistakes; I ask for forgiveness. I hate; but my God do I love! I see pain; I soothe. The holidays wreak havoc on too many; just look at the statistics – the suicide rate at this time of year is mind-boggling. I am all for remembering what Christmas is truly about; but I am also an advocate for thinking of those right next to us. So often we spend more time thinking of the right gift and nary a thought of the right words. We place so much more weight on what we give than what we say or do. Think about it – I have never heard a story where giving a Birkin bag saved someone’s life (well, except of course if they were to sell the shit and use the money for rent and food to feed their family. But then someone who is in that kinda dire-straits would not really be the recipient of such a superficial gift, right?); but I sure have heard when giving a hug did. When sitting down to spend some time with someone at the end of hope did.
At a Christmas celebration a man sang a song about betrayal; he unwrapped his skin and exposed his soul. There was no “Dashing through the snow…” or “Ho! Ho! Ho!” for him. The details of his story are unique to him, but the story is an old one; so many of us may have a version. Here is what I pray for us all – that each day brings us farther away from the pain and closer to healing. I pray in this holiday season that our smiles are less for what we have been given and more reflective of what we feel. I ask the Universe to wrap up our pain and take it away with all the other garbage. And, I pray that as you throw out the dried-up Christmas tree, you find tucked away in the back for no one else to find or to touch… a large box, full of your joy that lasts longer than this season.