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The Catch-22 of the Holidays

I love Christmas.  I love the sparkle of lights, the gaiety, the carols, the childlike wonder and excitement and the fact that people are generally nicer to one another.  It’s a beautiful thing.  But as an adult, I’ve discovered that the holidays also come with a melancholy.  A deep ache and yearning to be with those that we’ve lost, that is felt so much more acutely now than any other time of the year.  For whatever reason, I’ve noticed this more this year than in the past.  It’s very conflicting.  You know that they would want you to enjoy yourself and not spend your time grieving, but the more that you enjoy yourself the more that you wish they could be there with you.  It’s a bit of a vicious catch-22.

So you stuff those emotions down and like Clark Griswold you force yourself and all those around you to have the “Hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye.”  I think we all know how that works out for all involved.  Instead of acknowledging and embracing the sadness, we try to ignore it which makes everything worse.  There is a beauty and simplicity to surrendering to the ache, feeling the loss, remembering the pain and love and having a good cry.  There is nothing wrong with missing the people that we’ve lost, but I feel like society says that after a certain point we should be over it, have moved on with our lives.

I don’t think it works that way.  Every loss, every hardship, every trial and tribulation leaves its mark.  Sometimes just a ding or a crack, but other times massive breaks that cause entire pieces to fall away and be lost forever.  So we rebuild.  We find new pieces to fill in the gaps and we fortify the weak spots.  But all of our hard work and care can be stripped away in a moment by the simple act of discovering a long lost ornament that was somebody’s favorite, or a particular Christmas carol coming on right as you’re making cookies that transports you back to a long ago time. A beautiful memory of a moment that you haven’t thought of in years.  A memory that rips through all of your fortifications and reminds you of what caused the breaks in the first place.

It hurts.  It’s suffocating.  It feels like you’ve been blind-sided by a truck and that you will never be able to move again.  You curse the pain.  You curse the breaks and yearn to be whole and unblemished again.  A clear pane of glass without so much as a smudge to obscure the view. Until one day you realize that the window to your soul is now made of stained glass, and you are so much more beautiful for it.  It is the heartaches and hardships that forge our true spirits.  The obstacles that we overcome and the love, forgiveness and trust that is used to fill in and fuse those cracks and breaks caused by all that troubles us.  We are wiser for our faults.  We are stronger for our breaks. We are happier for our losses. Thus forms the mettle of true character and what is life but a play of characters?  A dancing drama unfolding every second of every day.  Those that are remembered are the intriguing, the flawed, the intricate ones that touch our hearts and remind us that the best way forward is with our chins up. Reminds us that the best way to live is with our hearts and not our heads.

So to all of the characters, embrace the ache deep inside.  Acknowledge and feel your loss, but be grateful for all that you have not lost.  For all that you have in hand and all that lays before. You may be broken, pieced back together and still healing, but you are standing and you are beautiful. Best of all, you get to choose how best to put your window back together. Personally, mine is of puppies farting rainbows and butterflies . . . because that makes me giggle.

Cease to be Funny