Haul out the holly, put up the tree before my spirit falls again…
I don’t know in what scientific world red and green together become blue, but as the chill of winter settles in, it seems to upset the entire color wheel. Gold and silver become sacrilegious, red becomes merry and green brings us peace in a softly lit pine tree.
It’s the time of year that we wander in and out of lost dreams, holidays past and wonder just a little more about what the future holds. We reach out for love, whether holding more tightly or search for it with desperation in a hanging sock, a starry night or in a ribbon wrapped box. Memories abound like scurrying elves and hang about like mistletoe, surrounding us in romantic sorrow.
It seems that each year the ringing of the bells becomes more faint than ever before, that the angels fly higher out of reach. Maybe it’s that my perspective continues to grow heavier .
“What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” It’s the common question on everyone’s mind and they expect polite, standard answers in return.
“Surviving. Because that’s apparently what I do.” It is no secret that it is my least favorite day of the year. My thankfulness is rudely intruded upon by my ungracious family. Their way of ringing in the season is to let me be the turkey on the table each year as I’m poked or prodded or even ignored. Maybe the latter part is the blessing in disguise. Over the years I have created my own family and perhaps I have a deeper appreciation for them because they were chosen rather than handed over.
As December rolls in, the days grow shorter and my longing for something meaningful takes hold. Having less and less money at the end of each year doesn’t make it any merrier. This year Roger and I have agreed to lighten up on the gift giving and spend time away from our hectic lives instead. We’ll take two days next week and visit the ocean. Maybe we’ll revisit each other too.
A few weeks ago, as I looked ahead to my many projects, it occurred to me finally that I may have a habit of taking on too much. I always think I can handle anything that comes along because that’s what others tell me, but it’s occurring to me that I’m not being fair to those I make commitments to. I don’t like to let others down, I’m so familiar with that spiral. It’s like when we stop believing in Santa; one disappointment leads to another until we no longer fall asleep in front of the chimney waiting for something to appear. Some people will shrug it off like it’s nothing but others will miss that magic for the rest of their lives.
One such project came along only recently. I connected with a woman through the social media post of a local journalist who had shared Christine’s story. She has traveled a harrowing journey through depression and was ready to end her life when she sent a “farewell letter” to Frank, as though she had nothing more to lose by opening up. I felt drawn to her when she stated that she had the idea to write down her story. Knowing she had a long road ahead of her, I offered to help where I could. As I’ve fallen further behind in my current work, it felt as though I’d done her a disservice but promising I could do this. When she recently visited the Bay Area, we made arrangements to meet. I was wracked with nerves. What if we didn’t hit it off? What if this was too big for either of us? How would I explain that to her or admit it to myself? The night before we were to meet, a thought came to me at 3am as many thoughts do and I emailed the newsman and told him that Christine would be here and would he like to meet her? Then, after the note had been sent, I immediately wondered, had I done that for her benefit or for mine?
I was quite surprised when he replied in the morning confirming he would be there. Suddenly the day became even more important as I feared what her reaction might be. Was I betraying her trust, her privacy?
As we talked, I felt more at ease because I knew where she was coming from. The loneliness, the hurt, the anger. We weren’t far apart in age, or in our lives even if they seemed vastly different at that particular moment. I asked her why she’d written that letter. “I just wanted to talk to someone who didn’t know me.”
Then Frank arrived and she still had no idea. Butterflies hit me as I said “So, I have a surprise for you…”
“Turn around.” He stood behind her and Christine burst into tears as he wrapped her in a hug.
“You saved my life.” she cried. It was humbling to be in the presence of that. Even if I failed in giving what she needed after today, I had done something right. This was not about me, but in bringing her one moment of acceptance from a world that had betrayed her. That we all brought each other together, my life would be richer going forward.
Bells ring from near and far every day in every corner of the world. They peal more loudly when accompanied by wreaths and gifts and cheered spirits. We don’t all feel that magic, some of us have to go in search of it and some have lost our way for what might be forever. It’s not always a scientific world, nor is it surrounded always by frosted marshmallow clouds, but it is indeed our snowball that grows.
As I look into the eyes of those around me who wish for better and brighter things, it lessens my own sadness just enough to find my spirit. Today I let Capra whisk me away to Bedford Falls where Clarence spoke once again to my inner demons. A few days ago, I witnessed a room full of people coming together in faith and charity to make a better Christmas for so many others because I asked them to.
When my husband and I reach our pier, we will walk hand in hand to the end of the world to stand beneath the brightest, tallest, most magical tree in the entire endless sky. It may not really be the tallest, but that’s my perspective as each year closes, the lights dotted with the faces of those around me. It is a universe that grows with each day that I live. It is then that blue gives way to the lining of silver amongst the red and the green. I will listen for the sweetness of the bells and count my coins of gold, and look for someone to pass them on to, because the glitter and shine is in the sharing.
For I’ve grown a little sadder, grown a little older. We need a little Christmas now…