Trust me, he’s not running to Target. He’s this excited because he’s breathing.
Back in Year One Post-Pocket Call, I benefited from the guidance of kittens worldwide as the holidays approached.
Create new traditions. Everything will be okay. Just love The Dudes.
I held on to those words like a child in the throes of a meltdown holds on to their blanky – Try to take this from me and I will become Chucky and eat your face.
That first Christmas was spent together as a ‘family’. I didn’t then know the extent of my former spouse’s affair, nor truly comprehend the enormity of the deceit and baseness of his choices. The best term I can come up with to describe how I felt is shell-shocked. The bombs continued to explode around me – the affair was going on for one year, four years, more years. While I was his angel just a few months earlier, that holiday season I was the devil. He should have ‘blown up’ our marriage in the first year. We were toxic together. Everybody was happy.
Um. K. Anybody got some eggnog?
I was moments from the explosion of the roadside bomb and totally not expecting the post-traumatic stress disorder that lives in the dark like a viper, ready to strike if you let down your guard, get a little too unconscious. I was living with a stranger, in a strange (but spectacular) place, and knew intuitively that what I thought was my world – my family – was a complete and total illusion. And that it was all over. Fini. Buh-bye.
If you are in this place now, know this: It’s normal. You should feel like you were just exploded in mid-air. It should undo you. And then that explosion can transform you into the most magnificent fireworks you’ve ever seen. Then you can ohhhh and ahhhh your way through the storms and epiphanies and growth spurts of WTF just happened to my family?
Your choice. Truly. It’s your CHOICE.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to guide some kittens through the looming holiday season. As I pondered our conversations, I started seeing what the holiday looks like in this way: a veil laid over the planet, dimming the natural light, trapping some in place. Or another way – we’re all tied to Christmas trees with garland made from shards of glass.
The most startling realization for me was that I couldn’t see the Earth. While Christmas day may involve sledding or a long hike, the run up to it is a marathon of trying to meet material needs, manufacture a holiday spirit, and race against time.
The very definition of being ungrounded.
And in the case of those of us in various stages of WTF just happened to my family? we are having an out-of-body experience. Not the fun kind. (But it’s just this kind of experience that can lead to super fun OBEs. Seriously.)
Peeling back that veil released the tension I felt. It cleared the way for a gorgeous view of the Earth. And then it hit me: Christmas is a Thursday. Literally just another precious and magical day. Like the day upon which I had the realization.
That night I pretended it was Christmas Eve as The Dudes and I snuggled on the couch and pondered my thoughts and feelings.
Excitement. Love. Joy.
Seeing their beautiful faces. Smelling the top of their heads as they snuggle up in my arms.
Feeling how soft they are as I scratch their backs and rub their feet.
Sensing the spirit of the night, the hum of the Earth, the power in the air.
Feeling the vibration of our bodies.
Sensing the planet floating in the middle of infinite space.
Taking my fingers and stirring up the stars. Hearing them giggle.
Feeling the couch under my bum and trying to comprehend that it is not solid but a bustling gaggle of molecules.
I sat there in a state of wonder and awe.
And then I realized that if it was one of the Christmas Eves while I was married I would have been wrapping gifts on the floor with a raging back ache while my former spouse put together toys downstairs. We would collapse into bed around 2 or 3AM after decorating the tree (In those early years Santa did it cuz we liked to make life excruciating and magical.) and piling up the gifts.
Our morning would be so fun, as we sat exhausted on the couch, certainly loving the scene in front of us.
But goodness, what a mad dash to Nutville! Fun and all, but kind of robotic. And what’s that feeling? Relief that it’s over? That just doesn’t seem right.
We hear all the time about the over-commercialization of Christmas and how we need to dial it back and remember why we celebrate this time of year, be it for religious or sentimental or spiritual reasons.
But we also need to lift the veil and SEE this time of year as no different from any other time of year. To thrust upon these days the responsibility for an entire year of happiness and gratitude and sharing love creates a sudden drop into the BLAHS from which it can take a whole year to emerge. Until we walk into Starbucks and see the Gingerbread Latte and can start manufacturing joy and magic and a celebratory mood all over again.
The night that I pretended it was Christmas Eve, not unlike any other Friday night, was all the magic of the night before Christmas and none of the bunk.
Lifting this veil did not make me go all bah humbug. Quite the contrary. It frees me to actually celebrate. Celebrate LIFE. Which includes wanting to bake cookies, slowly, without the rush of the holidays or the need to bake for fifty people because, well, it’s Christmas. Just the other night our Fairy Godmother baked cookies for The Dudes. It felt like Christmas to them! She did it because she likes the grounding process of baking, the way it makes the house smell. And it gives her an excuse to stroll down the lane and share a little joy.
That happened on a Monday.
The other day Mr. Ellen DeGeneres rearranged my living room to create a space for me to write and a cozy vibe for us all to relax in. When I saw that it felt like… Christmas! Because he did something thoughtful and the message was, You deserve a beautiful place to create. Best. Present. Ever. I swear, each morning when I come down the stairs I pause and get all tingly at the sight…just like Christmas morning.
That happened on a Sunday.
Today, while you are mourning the death of the happily ever after dream, or stressing about competing with the Instafamily, or crying because you are staring down the barrel of this holiday season wondering if anyone will buy you a present, or if you’ll be kissed under the mistletoe, or if your stocking will hang empty because children don’t fill stockings, they tip them over and shake them down, just press stop. Picture yourself standing on top of the most beautiful, sparkly ornament ever made.
Because you are.
It’s the Earth. And she thinks you are the Best. Present. Ever.
Now reach up with your fingers and swirl the stars. Breathe in their giggles.
And now, make a commitment to yourself that you are going to SLOW DOWN this holiday season. You are going to do ONLY that which brings you joy. You are going to remove the veil and see this time for what it is – just as magical as every other time of the year. Its magic dimmed only by the madness we have created around these days. You are going to sit alone or with your children and imagine all the magic that is life, and none of that magic comes in a tree stand or with a price tag.
The best gift we can give our children and ourselves is the gift of knowing that magic comes from within. Happiness bubbles up inside because we feel alive, we appreciate the gift of life and we feel safe and loved and free to be our true self. It’s a challenge to get and give this gift, but at least we don’t have to wrap it in anything but our love.
I have endless amounts of love for you.