Sunday, December 10, 2017
I hope you had a wonderful week. Mine has been on the whole very satisfying. It has been full of dreams, journeys, classes, games, and things falling together. At times I've felt like I've been pulled in ten directions at once, but these last three days have me feeling a bit more settled.
Last night was the first snow of the season. It came late in the afternoon without much accumulation, but the visibility for a half hour was quite low. Often it seems if the first frozen precipitation falls on the weekend our city doesn't feel the need to treat the roads. Well I was more than half way to a holiday dinner party when I lost control of my car the first time. Before the night had ended I must have skidded at least half a dozen times. Luckily I drive at a reasonable pace and with the road conditions I was more sedate in my speed than normally. Still I was tempted to turn around and go home, but with all I had accomplished I felt like I should be social. It is the season of gathering.
Thinking of all the trouble people go through to get together through less than ideal traveling conditions has me thinking of how social we are as a species. We live together in great numbers with relative peace all things considered. We seem drawn together at these times where the nights are long. Perhaps it is cultural, holiday times were always special growing up as they were for my parents before me, and their parents before them. Would we observe the season in the same way without that backdrop of ancestral history? I think we would.
All over the world there seems to be some observance of these high and low times as it comes to the sunshine in the year. Whether it is Christmas, Yule, Chanukah, Diwali, or Saturnalia the darkness of the northern hemisphere has us gathering lights to banish the long night and beckon back the sun. The response from so many cultures shows me that there is some deeper yearning that is met by gathering together and lighting fires and cheering on each other's inner light.
Why am I telling you this? Well many of us struggle with holidays. We compare our situations to cultural images of perfection and happiness that are unrealistic. Others of us may be estranged from family or friends. Still others have lost loved ones whose absence is even more keenly felt in these times of gathering.
As I live longer I have seen the holidays shrink, and rather than allow that grief, I have constant messages from media and my everyday life telling me how happy I should be. I have eschewed most work related parties this year because I find it difficult to keep the appropriate level of "cheer" at the ready. (It probably doesn't help matters that I don't imbibe alcohol either).
So in this time of gathering dark, I challenge you to bring your light. Be with others you care about. Enjoy their company. Allow your sadness for bygone days and friends to coexist with your appreciation of those that remain to you. That I believe is the true meaning of the season, not the manic dancing reindeer party machine, guzzling the eggnog. Be authentic in your joy and in your grief. Don't require anyone to fix it, and in return don't think you have to fix anyone else. Just share your light.
Peace and Blessings,