Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Blah Revisited

Christmas 2010
~ Alice J. Wisler

Another Christmas. Here I go again . . .

Gearing up to this season, there were the nuisances from living (basically, things not going how I wished they would) that many of us face. I’ve learned to adapt to most of those because I’ve had lots of years of living to adapt!

Yet, what got to me was that feeling of apathy as I set out to do the inevitable—fight the crowds at Christmas shopping. I felt lifeless. Joyless.

What’s wrong with me? Why do I feel so ho-hum this Christmas?

The songs on the radio didn’t help. I couldn’t get excited over hoping for a white Christmas of wondering what Santa would bring me from his sleigh of goodies. And that was even after I realized he had to bring me something; I’ve been pretty good this year.

I decided that I needed to combat this mood with gratitude, so I counted my blessings. I have so many, including five kinds of tea in the pantry and a computer that works, and is currently, virus-free. With kids and a husband who love me, what was the problem?

When Mariah Carey sang, "All I want for Christmas is you," the words stuck, lodging in my heart.

Of course. I was missing my son, Daniel, and the desire to have him here, was heavy. Without his mother’s permission, Daniel would spend another Christmas in Heaven.

Putting on a pair of earrings and a scarf I love in hopes that they would make me feel festive, I set out to shop. With so many decisions to make, I took my time, the lump of blahness still filling my heart like the lumps of coal the naughty kids are threatened with.

It was while standing at the boxed chocolate that one word came to me. Write. I teach writing through grief and what amazes me, is that even after all these years since my son’s death, I sometimes forget that I need writing to help me cope.

Just knowing how helpful and healing writing is for my soul, I smiled, grateful that once this shopping ordeal ended, I could slip behind my computer and pour out my sadness.

Yes, I was missing Daniel. Yes, it has been thirteen years since he breathed his last. And, no, Christmas will never be complete without him here.

However. I typed that word really big. In spite of it all, or because of my loss, perhaps, I have learned. If Christmas is just a feel-good occasion with a romantical (this is a word, I know, my husband used it once and I told him it doesn’t exist, but some old Oxford dictionary agrees with him that it does) side, then no wonder I feel empty. If it’s about feeling warm and cozy or about being excited over a tree with presents underneath, then I feel cheated.

Because I don’t feel warm and cozy. And, compared to the rest of the world, I live in an affluent society; I don’t need more things.

Except for the gifts that cannot be purchased by humans. Peace. Self-less-ness. Humility. Grace. Forgiveness. The ability to forgive others. Over and over.

These lavish gifts were given. They came on a night halfway around the world thousands of years ago. These are the treasures that do more than sparkle and dazzle. These are what my aching heart need.

Christmas again. A season where so many promises are made on TV, telling me that all will be merry if I just bake the right cookie or buy the silver sedan for my loved ones. Of course I don’t buy into those notions. Yet, I would like to feel at least a little Christmas cheer.

And, lo and behold, I do! Because I’ve taken the gift of writing and used it to guide me into a peaceful realization! The conclusion has been the same every year since Daniel’s death: I am broken, frail, and wounded. There are days I’m tired of being me and wish some gracious, loving, carefree woman would take over.

There was a time when I was able to focus less on the Christmas story and the hope it brings, and more on the fleeting exhilaration of decking the halls and having a cup of eggnog. But no more. My son’s demise and death made me appreciate the birth of Jesus Christ more. I know what it is like to struggle, to suffer, to sink into sorrow.

For in the birth comes God with us: Emmanuel. Love Incarnate stooping down to meet us in our nasty conditions, in our pain, our shame, and blahness, so that we can have those valuable intangible presents he bestows. These are the priceless gifts the world with all its fortune can never master. Great blessings of His Heaven!

"How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Oh holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us, our lord Emanuel." ~ From “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

To read more about writing through grief, check out this article: How to Use the Tool of Grief-Writing to Healhttp://www.associatedcontent.com/article/115539/how_to_use_the_tools_of_griefwriting.html?#comments