There's a world outside your window, and it's filled with dread and fear where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears...
Used to be I would anticipate the holidays despite the family heartaches because I could always find something to take root and make Christmas shine just a little bit. Traditions were essential; the first song was chosen carefully - the theme to sum up the year - and played the morning after the turkey carving, the tree was pulled out for weeks of dream gazing, lights were strung outside to glow into a winter's night, and overflowing baskets of warm cookies were to be given away.
To quote the good witch, it's fun to be popular.Now, the music becomes tired long before the season has begun, the tree is a hassle, my husband grows more tired each year of climbing on the roof to string up cheap lights that rarely work, and the cookie list became too long to keep up.
Some things remain. Theme songs, a dream has a possibility, occasional treats from the oven, an anonymous glass of wine at crowded bar for someone who seems blue. The gathering of toys for kids in need of a Christmas is what grounds me. Someone asked why, when I'm so not a kid person, this was such an important cause to me. I began to reflect on my mom, and how she worked to put her special touch on holidays she knew were more difficult for us than every other day of the year. Perhaps it's in her memory I want others to have their moments as well.
I'm not a religious person, so is it hypocritical that I am accepting of gifts and indulge in the name of Christmas when I don't believe in the cause? As the year comes to a close, I focus on endings, beginnings, the people who have passed through and those who've chosen to stay. It's about taking inventory of my world.Through my work, I communicate with strangers on the internet every day. I talk with them, hear their stories, and learn about lives other than my own. They are snowflakes - they may look the same on the surface, but each is different from the next. Reaching out is what keeps me connected in my solitude. Writing can be a lonely journey; many of our friends are imaginary, our worlds are painted inside of our own minds, and our words are carefully constructed. I write about my life to prove its authenticity. These strangers contradict my own views and show me our universal truths as well. Without them, I would be one snowflake falling.
One tiny invisible snowflake.Someone said to me in a letter today, " I suppose if Christmas was a football, I'd be Charlie Brown feeling perennial hope snatched away at the last moment. I seem to be near another nadir, looking for hope. I have a small window but haven't found the door." It was ensconced in a long letter describing the meaning of his Christmas.
Once in awhile something stands out demanding my attention, be it a song, a whisper, or a word and suddenly things will make sense for just that moment. Another letter read, " If you are looking for someone worse off than you to brighten up your holidays then I can show you what Christmas is all about." He is without a home, working two jobs and trying to bring his family to live under one roof again. " So this year for Christmas I'm all alone living in my car trying to figure out where to park and sleep each night. I have a full-time job during the day and part-time job 5 nights a week with working an average of 75 hours weekly. I'm one of the lucky homeless."There's a world outside my window.
Snowflakes adrift all around me, too many of us lost in the storm but in the midst of my own blizzard are people showing me their faithful longings. How could I not see the divinity in that?Another letter came to me in the mail today, written in hand by an old friend who's become new again. Jim wrote: "You're living out Gandhi's vision when he challenged us to 'be the change you wish to see in the world.' Thanks for bringing the real meaning of Christmas to so many and for allowing others to share in the endeavor."
With many friends around me to join hands, I am not invisible.It is in the quiet winter evenings that I read these letters, with colorful lights like a sky full of stars dotting the tree in the corner casting their light on my husband's face as he sleeps with our two furry girls snuggled in tight against him. Angels may be out there getting their wings, kids might be praying for that one toy they can't live without, and malls are filled with a false joy reflected from the grand silver and gold ornaments hanging above the weary shoppers. Across the globe, people are starving, and not just for food to nourish them. They don't know a Christmas like we do.
We give from afar to brighten our holidays, thinking it will absolve our sins in the year behind us. We drop our needs into stockings hung above a fire where they beg for warmth. Our expectations for new beginnings are wrapped up in glittery ribbons and searched for at the bottom of a sparkling glass of liquid hope. Where will you find your Christmas moment?Look around, feel the snow fall on your skin, let the iciness melt as it touches you. And feed the world.
In our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy. Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime...
(c) Kymberlie Ingalls - December 3rd, 2013
Lyrics: Do They Know It's Christmas? / Band Aid