Let me say first that I don’t pretend to understand the inner workings of all families but stand alone only to make perceptions of what I have seen in my own life and closest relations a bit relevant for the Christmas season.
In most households in our part of the world, the Western Hemisphere, either through KWANZAA, Hanukkah, or Christianity’s Birth of Christ, the winter holiday season is highlighted with a look to ourselves and our family. It is what makes us rejoice in the merriment of the season and can also bring on the pain of the loss of those members close to us or a severing of ties that happened years ago. It brings up all sorts of feelings, is part of the cause of a depression cycle in some, and reminds us of what is important in life. For everyone, that list will look a little different.
Even for those who have no belief in one of the above mentioned holidays or the others celebrations around the world I left out, it is a time for reflection upon the year that has preceded us and a hope for what the New Year may bring. With all of the beauty that surrounds the lights, the ritual, the candles, the decorations… whatever makes the season especially dear for you, the shining light at the end of a sometimes overwrought shopping season or emotional time of self analysis, the light at the end of the tunnel is almost always the joining of figurative and literal hands of family in celebration.
Ever since June and Ward Cleaver worried about the Beaver, there seems to have been this unreachable standard of a perfect family and I don’t know about anyone else, but this joyous joining of kin can also bring up old issues, the flaws in our own fold to meet that “Leave It To Beaver” standard, and button pushing all around some years while others pass flawlessly into that good night. The not knowing which year this is going to be certainly adds to that standard of perfection we all seek to emulate in getting the perfect gift, arranging the tree just so, and using Grandma’s familial recipes to bring about a day of good cheer.
Personally, I have trepidation and joy each year as the holidays close in on us wishing and hoping life and love of family in enough to satisfy us all and then worrying that the realities just under the surface might bring up a tear in my eye if my brother doesn’t throw a kind, thoughtful word my way or my parents aren’t proud of me as I work for his love and their approval year after year.
A good psychiatrist at least has me conscious of the process now which seems to make the yearly gathering pass with good feelings all around. I look only at the unconditional love on the faces of my niece and nephew to make the day (or an other I am with family) a successful one because as you grow older, it becomes more aboutsuccess than the wonder, free flowing joy and merriment of the season. You have seen the cracks of a full-on family melt down and know that success is about everyone coming away unscathed first, and happy, joyous and free second.
That said, I really do love Christmastime as there are still children, my brother’s, in my life and their happiness permeates the rooms of whichever home we use to gather. As I said, I know how to put those deep seeded issues of MINE away for the day or two and enjoy the company of the people I have known longest in my life. I enjoy the sending and receiving of cards, even those letters to the editor sent to everyone about little cousin Joey’s school play and bad flu some of us get from a kooky relative. Putting up my lights facing out on to the street, hoping the sharing of my spirit will touch one of the homeless or hopeless that wanders by as I live on a busy downtown street.
As I have pointed to the flaws in the system of holidays, I haven’t extolled the benefits with the enthusiasm that honest to goodness fills my heart and the air around me this year. It has been a good 2009, capped with a new gay mayor and a new endeavor (this blog), and all is well with my world. I am 99.75% sure this Christmas will be one for the photo albums again!!! I just wanted to share my sigh of relief but also the fact that the trepidation still creeps in on a foggy, gloomy day like today.
My family, as I am sure many of you feel about your own, is one for the ages and I feel very fortunate and entirely grateful for all that I do have in my life, including the cracks that make our family a real one. Without them I’m sure I would find other issues to make my doctor a bit crazy this time of year and I always thought “Leave It To Beaver” was the most boring show on TV. If nothing else I can be assured my holiday will not be boring with the group I love as we all try to enjoy ourselves and each other, year in, year out.
SO… what did any of this drivel mean? Nothing except a warm wish to all those feeling a little fear in the air as well this year. DEEP BREATH. Remember these are your home, your people, your love and all will be well. We have a few more weeks of 2009 that we can make the best weeks of the year! Just go for it!
Inspired by Sappho's Muse
Sappho Eurygyus www.sapphospeaks.com
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