Monday, December 23, 2013

The adaptive life meets Christmas

Today my heart is with a long-time friend whose father died this morning, with a blogging writer who has new reasons to be hopeful, with all who do and do not find what seems to be missing from the hollow place within as Christmas charges straight at us.
Sees Candy
A measure of my relative comfort/discomfort level is how much I crave sweets.  I would have said that tranquility had the upper hand.  One of my addictions says otherwise.  How fortunate no one sent us a two-pound, or even a one-pound box of Sees Candy, the Christmas-Easter-Valentine favorite of yore.  The gourmet, mammoth malted milk balls that arrived at the perfect moment last week are long gone.  I have made considerable peace with Christmas as it exists around me, as it existed in the past.  As a treaty, it is respected and understood.  As an emotional state, there is room for, shall we say, growth, awareness.

I do believe everything is a process and this is simply another example.  I am the pop-up card that has not been unfolded.  I remain flat, inhabiting the territory between subdued happiness and just subdued.   I have been places so much worse.  Here, it is what it is, filled with clearly identifiable reasons for joy and gratitude, no reasons for discomfort.  Nothing is wrong.  I have learned not to overextend, learned to keeps the lights low, the voices muted.  This year I could listen to Judy Garland singing, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and not think, for the first time since I understood the words, that I would be waiting another year to have troubles banished.  For the first time, THIS is the year that when troubles are out of sight, a miracle and I'm not kidding.

Here is what I think:  we spent so many  years, a lot of us, especially of my generation and middle-class circumstances, being engulfed by Christmas everything from Thanksgiving onward that to have negotiated a truce in which the tone is low-key feels unnatural, at least unfamiliar.  I have not yet adjusted to the fit, the itch, the look of this quiet celebration and in amnesiac moments panic temporarily, thinking something is missing.  It is not.  It is all here, all is well.  If it takes a last-minute trip to Trader Joe's for dark chocolate covered cherries to sedate nagging doubt, I won't be too critical.  And I will spend far more energy in love and wishes and hope for all who need it most, managing to remember this year I am not on the disabled list, if I ever really was.


T. said...

A wonderful meditation, Marylinn, on the Christmas Eve eve.

I didn't put up a tree this year, opting instead to hang a hazelnut branch from the ceiling, thinking it would be less work. Well, of course it wasn't less work at all, but symbolically it's one giant step away from the "Have-To's" of Christmas.

Not an easy giant step, but it's been made, and that's enough.

Melissa Green said...

How many fine things are to be said for the adaptive life: the peace of knowing things are just as they should be and that there is nothing at all amiss; that the overabundance of former years, though not meaningless, did not mean what we thought it did, and can be let go off with equanimity and gratitude; for what we once had we can perhaps see in it now not a loss but what we may no longer need. I am glad my loved ones can celebrate in the old festive way. I am happy indeed to sit quietly at home in my slippers listening to Monteverdi and The Tallis Scholars, feeling so loved and so full of loving that it brims over.

All love to you, dear friend--to those we love in common and to those who once were strangers who have been gathered in to share the firelight.

Marylinn Kelly said...

T. - I saw your branch which seemed quite lovely. For reasons too many to explain, it became necessary to jettison so much of what had once been Christmas essentials. Christmas and I are learning all over again how to behave with each other. I hope your day was as you wished. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - We have found a solid core of kindred spirits to sit with us in the firelight, have we not? Reshaping tradition, like making over the grown-up size winter coat to fit the child without appearing too painfully "make do" is a process. I love more easily, more graciously from a place this side of exhaustion. And in the evening, to be able to look upon the day and appreciate every moment of it, its peace, the love and kindness received and on-going. Love to you. xo