I started writing this when there was about a week before Christmas and I seemed barely be aware, perhaps too bogged down in projects, like getting this blog revamped. The last quarter of the year has always been my favorite, but there seems to be a change in my attitude about it all lately, about my mood being geared to the calendar. The holiday season is fraught with so much over-the-top expectation. People seem to change personality, grownups as excited and expectant as the little ones about the arrival of some delectable surprise, even as they’re the ones who plan the surprises!
My delight has always centered around the lights and the music, especially in the quaint Massachusetts town where I once lived, with lots of seventeenth century homes burning a single candle in each window, reminiscent perhaps of that single star in an expanse of black sky that could lead three men to the ultimate of all surprises. One single star. And is there any other music as rich with joy and gladness as Christmas music, whether it’s secular or religious?
This year is different, maybe dampened by too many autumn storms in our region, and compounded with tragedy and a national election that felt like an in-your-face gladiator battle. But maybe it’s also just a growing change in how I’m approaching my days, what I think Christmas or any day is all about. It certainly doesn’t hinge on lots of presents, never did. It was always about the obvious lift in everyone’s spirit, all of us wishing each other well, dedicated to spreading joy and celebration, dedicated to good will.
I think all these “upsets” have me rethinking what’s important and reminding me again of something I’ve mentioned before on this blog, the need to become more at peace with wherever and whatever, more open and aware of the present moment, less dependent on a special place or time, an annual event to get me revved up, less in need of something outside myself for comfort and joy. I met a woman once, recently widowed who though grieving, shared how she’d learned that her husband hadn’t been the person who brought love into her life, it was Love, God, the Universe that had brought love to her through her husband, an example of the ever-presence of love, of light. And that universal force remains, evidenced by the constancy of the stars lighting up a black sky and followed without fail by an always surprising sunrise every single morning. No matter how often we see it, that sunrise never fails and seems always brand new!
So, I’m thinking maybe I’m learning to find joy and celebration in each day, not just Christmas day, to celebrate the festivity of a blooming rose, or a snowflake, especially when we never know when some ill wind will try to interfere with our grand plans. What If we each tried to live the spirit of Christmas, its joy and generosity, its anticipation of surprise every day, not just on special days? What if we learned to be light, bring light, as bright as those candles in windows and on trees, not await a date on the calendar to give us joy?
Following the latest tragedy here in CT last week, amazing acts of kindness have broken out, not just in that small community but all over the country. Grownups and children are finding creative ways to spread comfort and joy. Let’s not depend on a season, a location, or a tragedy to spread joy and kindness, to be celebratory. We do know how to be light in the world; we only need to commit to it. It feels as if I’m making the commitment.