Friday, December 16, 2011

Emotional Holidays

Recently my friend at Gems and Rhinestones posted a one hundred word essay on depression during the holidays, including a moving sketch of a woman posed in grief.    For me, it's New Years Eve that brings out a hollow, mournful feeling that I just can't seem to shake.  But I've also had Christmases tinged with sadness, being separated from loved ones who have died, or family who live far away.  I know that one of the unspoken rules of blogging is to "keep talking happy talk" as my friend Sush invites us all to do.  But I couldn't forget to acknowledge that for many people, the blues of Christmas are a real event, part of the spectrum of feelings we share despite the joyous cacophony of media, marketing, and cultural tradition.

This year, I've been enjoying an upbeat, happy season.  I still miss my father, who loved Christmastime more than anyone.  His childhood poverty meant abundance for his children, and every year we had the biggest real Christmas tree he could find.  He decorated the outside with huge tubs of lights.  He invited family and friends for open house Christmas celebrations.  He visited cancer patients in the hospital (all through the year actually, since he was a survivor.) Friendly visiting was his cause.  He spread hope and comfort to the sick, contributed his experience with support groups and attended more funerals than anyone I know. He made a point of  sharing unknown stories with grieving families about their loved one's last days.  These stories were usually surprising as they revealed hope and faith)  At his own funeral, I learned that my dad believed his cancer was a gift.  In fact, my father's cancer was one of the best things that had happened to him, because it gave a new dimension to the meaning of his life.  It made him feel connected to more people on an intensely personal level.

What devastates us is also a reason for celebration and gratitude. Hard times and challenges have the effect of bringing out the best in people.

If you are sad this year, because something very difficult is occurring, I understand.

In the darkest night, if you look hard enough, somewhere there is a pinpoint of light.

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