These next 2 weeks with Christmas and New Year's always present a unique opportunity for reflection. And barely hidden depression.
The holidays are always a mixed bag for me. I'll love brief moments of it, feel carried back to a time of childhood safety and love surrounding me. And the rest of the time I'll be Charles Grodin, flinging little socks into overnight bags and searching for those fleeting moments of peace while I strive not to say what I'm thinking and just do all that needs to be done. Bringing those moments back is the very reason I'll operform all the duties and preparations. But I'll still miss many of them. And I will get so fat. And like everyone, I'll excuse my self-discipline from the party and join the collective fool's errand for joy, taking full leave of my senses.
For I deserately need to forget how much older I am; I need to ignore it for just a while and accept the bad substitutes for my lost wonder with food, wine, and sappy music. Like a thick old electric blanket, I'll pull it all around me, the memories of beauty, love, hope, and the pure possibility of new discovery, the ratty old things that along the way became coping mechanisms, compensation for a perspective I'll never recover.
There's so much I can't remember. Somewhere along the way I became old and I suspect those little thieves I live with. They stole all my youthful energy, these same ones I gave life to. They enjoy everything about the holidays, the pretty little midgets. And they never gorge themselves on pie and alcohol because they're too busy soaking up all my happiness. My Christmas cheer will be in their cups again and I'll be left with dirty coal because Christmas is for children and now I'm not one. Now my role is to give it to them and protect it for them the best I can.
But God in heaven, I want a break. A real break from all this adultishness. I want to go back for just a little while. I don't want to think about all the suffering in the world. The wars and famine, the family problems behind all the laughter. There is always so much pain and evil just outside the door, out in the cold dark night. And damn it, I don't want to see it! Please, why can't it just go away for a few moments so I can see through the eyes I used to have again, the eyes that used to know it was all right, that everything was as it should be and would be now and forever? Now nothing is as it should be. Nothing. Even home doesn't feel like home anymore. There's too much I know, too much responsibility for everything to be put right as it should be. And the worst part is I know it will never be put right again.
My parents and grandparents used to work so hard to make sure everything was put right. Christmas would arrive to all kinds of treats. The preparation of months of effort, waiting for its arrival. The food, decorations, presents, activities, and conversations all carried a dense, full-flavored weight. Like a big old fruitcake. Everything was thought out and amazing. Now that's my job and I don't know how to do it. I know now it wasn't really up to the adults how things went, but they fooled me and I loved my ignorant bliss. The frustrations hidden, the strings all under perfect control. Now I know the tremendous effort to hold even the smallest celebration together, to preserve the integrity of "celebration." So easily it can become anything but.
And so often today, the ties of family, the significance of our all being here at all, it seems to go unnoticed completely. We turn blinded eyes to the very things that make seeing worthwhile. And for want of seeing, we gouge our eyes out with selfishness and fear. I know why I get depressed–I'm afraid of losing that child I was. Selfishly, I try to stuff in the trappings and wrappings to bring him back. But he can't come back, and that's good. That's as it should be. Let me put that right, at least. If I can let that child go, I can embrace the new ones better. And maybe somethere in there I'll find the very things I've been fighting to recover.
Why shouldn't we use them to get back a little joy through osmosis? Their happiness should be our escapism, our escape from all the reality outside. Isn't that what Christmas is about? A child bringing hope in the darkness that we might escape. We've been waiting so long, fighting so hard, seaching to recover this small truth. But of such as these is the very kingdom. And a child shall lead them…
So come now, little ones. Come into our broken-down world and make us whole again. Let us look in your eyes of unbroken innocence, those eyes that so willingly believe. And let us see your shining faces, bold and bright, turned to watch the great star shining through the dark.