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The Christmas Dichotomy

Sitting in meditation tonight, I teared up thinking about the dichotomy of the past few days. I had moments of feeling so intimately connected to people, and moments of feeling so heart wrenchingly disconnected. It's the most wonderful time of the year.... when we can feel both so much joy and so much sorrow, sometimes within the same breath.

This year feels especially tricky with navigating an ever raging pandemic. Even in the midst of things slowing down, Christmas seems to have carried right on, and that crazy anxious feeling that happens around the holidays is still ever present.

Tim and I planned pre-pandemic to stay home for Christmas. No travel, people could come to us. We knew it was going to be quiet. And here we are, on the cusp of a quiet Christmas, that we chose, and yet I'm feeling, in this moment, so lonely. Right now, I miss hugging people. I miss not having to question how close I am to a person. I miss having the option to somewhere, if I were to choose that.

Most of you know I'm a pretty dang positive person and I work to be that way. It's more challenging for me to get in touch with the "scarier, harder" emotions of sadness and loss and fear. And this time of year, pandemic or not, those emotions seem to rise to the surface. Moving into winter is a time for that. It's a time to be still, to let things die, and to allow the space for new things to rise up and grow... and this means sitting with difficult emotions sometimes. The past week has been that for me. I don't like feeling sad or lonely. It is not my preference. It's what my body is asking of me this week. To feel sad. To feel lonely. To experience it fully without trying to run away or hide from it. What a strange time to feel so much on both ends of the spectrum. and yet what beauty in all of that.

All week as I've been sitting with emotions as they come up, I've had the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" stuck in my head. The lyrics raise up so perfectly this feeling of Christmas, of a New Year, of the hope of no more troubles (though we know we'll never be free of those), of coming together if fate allows it (this year, not so much). It calls us to create merriness in spite of it. Not fake happiness or even being happy all the time, rather, that deep guttural joy that knows loss and pain and also knows hope and love.

I am seeing for myself right now that this is what the Christmas season is about. It's about finding the deep joy. For me, that comes in the form of reindeer costumes and Christmas jumpers and present shaped earrings and Christmas lights on our tiny house porch. It comes in hysterical laughter with friends after a magic yoga class, in seeing familiar faces on a zoom screen, in watching heartwarming Christmas movies and sobbing my eyes (Yes, even Christmas with the Kranks got me tonight). It comes in watching my dogs slide around on the sheet of ice that is our driveway, filling our wood burning stove to keep us warm, and breathing in the cold winter air. These wonder filled moments boost me when I'm in the midst of sorrow filled ones. Like they're in the background reminding me that no feeling lasts forever, and I'm stronger for feeling it all than not feeling at all.

My encouragement to you this week is to feel it all, and to soak it all in. All of it. Give yourself space to if you need to. For me, that looks like a lot of puzzle time. I do some of my best thinking there (really!) Remind yourself when you need to that nothing lasts forever. And lastly, seek out that deep joy that lives within you, within all of us, as the booster to carry you through.

I'll leave you with the words to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and if you want to listen along, might I recommend the Judy Garland version (the very best!)

Have yourself a merry little Christmas Let your heart be light From now on Our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas Make the Yule-tide gay From now on Our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days Happy golden days of yore Faithful friends who are dear to us Gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together If the fates allow Hang a shining star upon the highest bough And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Here we are as in olden days Happy golden days of yore Faithfull friends who are dear to us Gather near to us once more

Through the years We all will be together If the fates allow So hang a shining star upon the highest bough And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Merry Christmas, Ya'll.


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