Here we go. Thanksgiving over, we hurdle toward the inevitable, Christmas. The days of Sears, Roebuck with their wonderful catalogue being behind us but somehow still resonating hope and excitement. Many people face the holidays with trepidation and angst, while many more sit lonely and recall happier times. Christmas time has great power, make no mistake. Far beyond the celebrated birth of Christ, Christmas in recent centuries has taken on a character that can evoke feelings, emotions and situations, which bear little, if any, resemblance to what he tried to teach us. If you are old enough to read this you know well the power of misunderstanding and misdirection.
I have a very brief story that might make you smile. Christmas can be very hectic to the point of overwhelm and we miss things right before us. This Halloween marked 59 years on the planet, at least the part we can see, (pay attention, I’m speaking of the planet). As an old friend would have reminded me, this means I am in my 60th year. This is a fact and can be stated with no emotional response whatsoever, by other people. To me, it is highly charged and evokes all sorts of fears to become manifest. In all honesty, these fears take many forms; loneliness, hopelessness and the fear of leaving this place afraid and alone.
When my Mom was among us, she would always answer the telephone on Christmas Day by saying “Christmas Gift” in her sweet, soothing voice filled with joy and happiness. You could just feel her child like wonder and just for a moment, you believed in miracles. There is no magnitude in the order of miracles and many go unnoticed and still more are simply ignored. Not me. My Mom taught me to believe in miracles. I believe.
My Mom’s birthday is December 21st. That day is also the winter solstice, my wedding anniversary and the date of her Dad’s transition to the forever time. Mom showed me strength, courage and humility. She, my brother and I often felt alone, dazed and confused, if I may Mr. Thompson. Not until later did I recognize the gifts she had given me. Circumstances dictated that I spend Christmas alone more than once. I reflect on these times with mixed emotions but I don’t recall localized sadness being one of them. Hard to articulate, I felt sad for my Mom and the many disappointments she endured. Mom was lucky to be alive; she was given some medical challenges in her early 20s, having a condition only having been seen post mortem, mostly in the casualties suffered during the Korean Conflict. War seems a better word than Conflict but here, in the Land of the Free, political sensitivity now defines form. Substance leaving the conversation long ago, cast aside in a world where the why has been eclipsed by the “how do I look?”
Mom rarely let me see her disappointment. She often felt discouragement, but she tried her best not to let my brother, or me, see this. Kids are pretty attuned to the things unseen but that exist on the margins, the stuff we see as shadows and dismiss as not really there.
But, the shadows of the past often have the power to obscure the present. The emotion of regret is quite powerful but mostly quite useless. In fact, it may not even be an emotion, I forget. Last time I checked, the story doesn’t get any better, no matter how many times you tell it. It is in our nature, I suppose, to let that feeling sorry for yourself monkey run. And, let me tell you, Christmas time presents a huge, wide-open, obstacle free playground for that monkey. Around the holidays you can just let it out, full gas, let that big monkey run.
But, right now, I just miss my Mom. I just told you about the birthday so I am taking a few feel sorry for myself moments. Although I hate to admit it, I just don’t get the new, new, new world. When did it change? Going to visit my son, living now in Asheville, NC, I had what may be my first Rip Van Winkle moment. Driving around, I got the feeling that I had never been there. I could not find any visual anchors and since when did Brevard and the small, little mountain communities around just sort of merge in? Say what you want about progress, I rarely like it.
There is a very long list of things I don’t like. Today, I got to waste 5 hours dealing with the blowback of helping somebody. If there is one, true physical law, it is “No good deed…” It was either Isaac Newton or Jerry Springer who discovered it, can’t remember. I don’t get it and I suspect nobody else does either. Kind of like when everybody is scared to admit they don’t know this thing that everybody knows. Sometimes, no one knows and nobody raises his or her hand. Yet another of the things I don’t get.
Those things are just distractions. The thing here is I just miss my Mom. I miss my Dad. I miss my children, although they are geographically very close to me. Physical proximity, a point in space-time, can almost never overcome the false truths spoken through the veil of deception. You all have heard about being lonely in a room full of people? This is the lie almost more powerful than what is. It sucks but that is the way it is, or rather the way we allow it to be. I miss my Mom. She would know what to do. At least she would tell me something nice and I would feel better.
I guess the best thing to do is to keep on. Get up and try and concentrate. Tell myself that I should keep being a part of, when I really don’t want to. There is no limit to the things you will be found guilty of, no matter how may good deeds you do. Oh, by the way, the jury which finds you guilty and all of the things which yield great power are nothing more than inventions of your mind. I think that maybe that was one thing the birthday boy was trying to tell us. I think we missed it.
I miss my Mom.