“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.” Desmond Tutu
Christmas feels a little tattered.
Last Wednesday, women from my Roundtables gathered to celebrate the end of this irrefutably bizarre year.
My questions about Christmas ‘past and present’ provoked tender and often funny memories as well as some visceral painful reactions. Clearly, there are as many different feelings evoked by Christmas as there are women.
And, as always, our feelings were put right out there on the table. No judgement. Out loud, open and honest. We cried, we laughed. It helps – a lot – to know we are not in this alone.
Of course, if your culture or belief framework is different, Christmas is not a celebration you care about. But even from other perspectives, this celebration reflects ancient solstice traditions that, as Sarah expressed eloquently, “…welcomes light into darkness.”
For more than a few women, Christmas carries heart-heaviness. That’s tough. Especially this year. A powder-keg of crushing pain, loss, old hurts, then toss in a few new fears – one careless spark and the whole thing could blow.
You never know what another carries, often hidden by a gentle smile.
For some, restricted to a small family bubble, this Christmas holds a gift. For others, it holds a loss.
For women on their own, it can heighten the awareness of how alone ‘one’ can be.
Our dear Héléne says that at Christmas, she goes interior – not in a bad or sad way – her gift to herself is precious “…thinking time.”
Music wakes up memories and emotions. Christmas carols, Handel’s stirring Messiah, choral music, even, “Bring a torch Jenette Isabella…” evokes baby Jesus in a manger, no room for his bed… drawing memories round shivering shoulders as we poke embers of faith or hope into flames to keep us warm.
For others, who slip into a shimmering Christmas reverie that nothing can tarnish, joy wafts in on music mingles with oven’s steaming cookie sheets, and happiness tucks in to stay for dinner. Debbie’s grin lit up our screens as she declared, “I still believe in magic!”
Yes, there’s magic. And there’s hope. But this has been a rough year.
We feel vibrations of desperation and fear world-wide. No one really believes that when the clock strikes midnight in an empty Times Square, that life will suddenly spring back.
There is no going back.
A river only moves in one direction. Forward.
Stay in the flow.
Be attuned equally to your pain as to those serendipitous moments of awe and hope that flood you with light.
Be gentle on yourself. Ask what you need – then do it for yourself.
Put on music – dance. Bake cookies – eat them all if you want. Sleep. Feast on philosophical books like, “An A to Z of Life” by Carlos Fuentes. Or revisit Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”. Investigate Dr. Michael Greger’s 1000 videos on why plant-based diets work then munch down some kale. Watch an amazing 1977 film (Youtube) by Charles and Ray Eames called, “The Power of Ten.” Share stories that shaped you with anyone who will listen. Invite stories from others. Listen deeply, with an open heart.
Do whatever it takes to keep moving forward.
I was shaping these thoughts as Susan left yesterday. It was almost dark outside. Her boots and coat already on, she suddenly stopped and turned. When excited, her Irish lilt is like water bubbling over smooth stones in a brook.
“Oh – I forgot to tell you – the Christmas Star will sit right on top of Ireland on Solstice night. First time in 800 years you can see it with the naked eye. Who knows if it’s true or not… but it might be the same star that led the Wise Men to the manger in Bethlehem… isn’t that a lovely thought?”
Desmond Tutu was right; “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”
Sending you light and hope,