Holidays are hard.
I think in some way, at some point, they’re hard on everyone.
Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Valentine’s Day.
The difficulties with those are self-explanatory. They remind those who don’t have mothers, fathers, children, or lovers - they are without. They’ve lost.
The difficulties with Christmas are harder to put on paper. They aren’t so easily defined.
In my own house, the smell of ripe Douglas Fir fills the air. Three different nativity scenes cover my end table and shelves. I’ve already watched Charlie Brown buy that scruffy tree and the Grinch steal Christmas. (The classic, animated version of course. Not that weird Jim Carrey thing.)
Yet, I can’t help feeling I’m filling my house in red ribbon and silver glitter to fill an emptiness in my heart.
And it halfway works. That’s the thing with Christmas.
A father can laugh at his own child tearing through paper, bags, and rock solid zip ties, while inside mourn the loss of his own father.
A sister will stay up all night, excited to find the perfect gift at the perfect price, only to feel sad as she remembers the gift is to be shipped across the country.
A young man decides not to fly home, since it’s better to drink eggnog with friends, than witness what his family has become.
A little girl get’s the one gift she really wants, but recognizes the shame in her parent's eyes because they didn't buy it for her. A charity did.
A childless couple spoils each other in love and gifts, but secretly wishes they could spoil someone else.
Why do the holidays make it so hard to focus on what we have and what we are, instead of what is missing and who we are not?
Why is it so hard to let go of the home I’ll never have? The one with parents for both me and my sisters. The one where cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents pile under a tree and later around a dining room table. The one with a light dusting of snow covering the ground.
Makes me want to punch Hallmark in the face.
Instead, I’ll spend $12 there on a box of cards. I’ll write little notes, sign my name and seal the envelopes tight. When I write out each name and address, I’ll remember they matter to me. I’ll remember not all families look alike. Not all Christmases look like a holiday ad in Sunday's paper.
I’ll remember I love glitter. Especially when it twinkles in the darkness.
What about you? What shines in the dark spots of your holidays?