I hope you were all snuggled in your beds last night with visions of sugarplums dancing in your heads and that all the sugarplums you desire and hope for and need are under your tree. Or in your heart. Today and always.
Christmas can be a tough day for so many. Struggle, pain, despair, loneliness, separation, stress, illness, loss – any or all of those things can cast a pall over the holidays. Many feel like they should be celebrating and happy and joyous like seemingly everyone else around them, like it is on television, or in pretty Pinterest pictures, or in books. But they can’t. Of course, that sense that everyone else is happy and full of good cheer and blessed and in the midst of picture-perfect family celebrations is a falsehood. While we wish that for everyone this holiday season and always, we also know that many are suffering. Many are in pain. Many are ill. Many are missing loved ones who are no longer with them, loved ones who have made their transition this past year.
In my own family this year, Meredith’s husband, my dear brother-in-law, lost his brother and mother within the space of a few weeks. Then, a short time later, we lost our mom. Three loved ones this year are not here to celebrate with us; three dear ones whose absence is deeply felt. We move forward, because we have to, because they would want us to. But it isn’t easy.
Dear Judy lost her beloved husband this year. We’ve lost friends. And I know some of you who are reading this post have also experienced the loss of your dearly loved friends and family members this year. Many of you have lost beloved pets. Many of you might be struggling in some way.
We send you our love. We send you our deepest wish for hope and healing, restoration and renewal.
Neither Don or I are near our families, who are scattered in California, Illinois, Michigan and Florida. We are far away from them during the holidays and have been for years and we’d love nothing more than to be with them. But, it is what it is. We’ve had to accept that. The important thing is to hold them in our hearts, to celebrate the spirit of the season, to remember why we celebrate this holiday and do our best to spread cheer and love to our fellow man.
Listen, Don and I have had Christmases where we have had next to nothing on hand to buy each other a present – where we’ve taken $50 out of our bank account, $50 that really stretched us to the limit financially, $50 that we felt guilty about spending, and each of us took half that amount to buy the other a present or two. That’s it. Many, many people don’t even have that.
And we’ve had a Christmas or two where the bank account was a bit fuller and we could indulge in a few more gifts. Life in the arts as freelancers means that our income is different every year. In the end, that seesaw ride has made us appreciate Christmas all the more because we’ve learned it’s not about excess. It’s not about what is under the tree. It’s about spirit and love and celebration and quiet moments of reflection. It’s about remembering where we came from and why we’re here.
If you’re able to be with your families, enjoy that privilege. Yes, there may be tensions, but in the end, who cares? Appreciate the time you have with your loved ones. Don’t take it for granted. It’s all too fleeting.
Oh goodness, this is not meant to be a sermon, simply some thoughts from someone who misses her brother and her mother. Who misses her father-in-law and cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents and friends who are no longer here on Earth; whose absence is more acute at Christmastime. Who knows how lucky she is to have Don in her life. And Don would tell you he knows how lucky he is to have me in his life.
If you’re lonely, reach out to someone in need. It pulls you out of yourself and changes your perspective. A smile can make a world of difference in someone’s day.
Count your blessings. Be thankful. Send love out to everyone you see.
We send our love to you. We are deeply grateful for your friendship and your presence in our lives.