First of all, a Merry Christmas to everyone!
This being the end of Advent, I feel compelled to give a recap. So, I’ve found this Advent practice to be useful, but it hasn’t illuminated everything the way I’d hoped it would. And how could it, really? Making space and eschewing the toxic stuff we cling to isn’t a simple thing, it isn’t clean. It’s messy, it’s tiring, it’s incremental. It’s not as satisfying as I’d wanted it to be. It asked more questions that provided answers. Boo.
But this actually raises a point I’ve been struggling with all season. We don’t talk about the darkness within Christmas very much. We focus on the light and the sweet, all that glitters. Trust me, I like glitter as much as the next girl. My living room is currently covered in it, due to some particularly glittery ribbons. But the light that shines at Christmas shines brightest because of the darkness that surrounds us, at the nadir of the year. The sweet tastes so sweet because of the bitter winter to which we have become accustomed. We celebrate a baby born to die, as are we all, but this one born as a sacrifice. Does knowing that temper our joy, or enhance it?
It’s true that suicides spike at Christmas, and people blame the loneliness that comes from not being able to celebrate with family or friends. But I’d argue (without any basis, I grant you) that the loneliness that causes someone to take their own life is chronic, a feeling as extreme on a random Tuesday as on Christmas Day. I wonder if the forced frivolity and the constant urging to feel joyful, shiny, merry and bright, might make people feel like their inability to feel happy all the time is a personal failing.
Because I’ll be completely honest, on paper last Christmas was way, way better. I was beginning a new, promising relationship filled with romance and fun. I had just been promoted in my job. I was staying with my folks for the holiday and was completely relaxed, not working, not having any responsibilities. This year I ran my ass ragged from work meetings to doctors appointments up until last night, I’ve been single for the past three and a half months after discovering the aforementioned promising relationship partner was a cheating pile of human garbage, and I’m hosting my parents this year. Despite having experienced a pretty shitty past few months, I’ve felt the pressure to count my blessings and be happy, for myself, for others, and that same pressure has made me brittle and resentful.
And you know what? So what. Fine. Be brittle, be resentful. That’s how I feel. That’s where I am this Christmas.
But I’m also sitting on the couch with my parents who traveled thousands of miles to see me, watching Love Actually, after enjoying a delicious meal cooked for me by best friends. Last night we all had a wonderful fancy meal next to the White House, getting to walk with those same friends in the city in which we now all live, a dream we used to share in law school that is now a reality. I have a new job that is challenging, which feels hard, but is so much better than the boredom and entropy I was feeling at my previous job. My health, as confirmed by those previously referenced doctors appointments is improving. Slowly, but still.
That’s also where I am this Christmas, and for now, that’s enough.