Christmas 2016 was particularly difficult. We were weary and on the verge of despair. While we continued to hold out hope that “a change would come,” we were deeply dispirited. Hopelessness is a unique, quiet terror that sucks the spirit dry and we were beginning to feel it. That year, I climbed up to the attic, down to the basement, and out to the shed, repeating the practiced discipline of retrieving the holiday decorations in preparation for the season. To say that my heart wasn’t in it is a gross understatement. I railed at the gods, beseeched God, and wondered “Is this karma? Maybe my fate?” I screamed “THERE IS NOTHING MORE THAT I KNOW TO DO. then whispered thereisnothingmorethatIknowtodo.”
I sought an answer. Oh, we had pursued many, many pathways for solutions, none of which worked. I was beyond that. I was deep into the existential “Why?” The one word that persists after all others are exhausted.
That year, while I went through the motions of decorating our massive old country house/inn, played the seasonal music, and lit the candles, my spirit was depleted. I called my sister. Of course I called my sister. Many times. Just as many times, I said, “I think I need to cancel the family Christmas this year. I just don’t have it in me. I’m sorry. I just can’t.” All the while my eternal “Yes” was doing battle with my despair. I so wanted my “Yes” to prevail, in spite of everything.
“We can order pizza. It doesn’t matter. We will come. We will be there.”
I called my friend, collector, deep thinker, and utterly unique friend, Lynda.
“I will come. I will be there. With cookies.”
The circle of loving support grew. Everyone who possibly could, came to be there with us.
In the end, emboldened with love and the firecracker of hope it ignited, I didn’t order the pizza. I made the dishes I had made the previous 25 years for our family Christmas and we carried on. We put on our elf hats, sang The Twelve Days of Christmas, and rocked the Yankee Swap, a not-to-be-missed tradition, worthy of a post.
We carried on in spite of our despair.
We carried on because of our despair.
We carried on because as long as there is love, there is a light that can be rekindled.
If your 2019 Christmas is anything like my 2016 Christmas, know that I know. Your feelings are real and they are valid. Know also, that the simple act of reaching out from that rawness to those who love you no matter what may be all you need to keep that fire within lit. It doesn’t change the situation, provide a solution, or answer the eternal “Why?” but if it keeps your light alive, know this: you will carry on. Come what may.