This month marks the winter solstice, the shortest, darkest day of the year. It’s a time to turn inward and allow the shadows to loom up and over us while we patiently, trustingly wait for the light. It’s fitting then that when I wrote last week about some of my challenges as a single mom, I heard from readers who were remembering their own dark times.
Three women shared with me why it’s particularly hard to hold the light around the holidays:
Today I want to write about something I’m pretty sure I can’t put into words. I realize that sounds crazy and it probably is.
But isn’t that the fascination behind writing–that desire to brush against the ineffable? To come as close as possible to defining the formless?
It is for me. And since Christmas is the time of year when we make lists of the things we want, I started thinking about those desires of our hearts that we don’t write down, specifically the longings we don’t realize we have until something strikes a chord within us.
Here we are, smack in the middle of the holiday season, and I’m waffling on how much good cheer I plan to spread. Too much will spread me too thin, and too little will make me feel crusty and crotchety. I’ve already told my kids that I don’t feel like buying a tree this year. “Jeez, mom, why not just cancel Christmas?” my daughter said.
See? There’s pressure everywhere to be jolly and generous, to shine brightly, to bake and shop and make polite chitchat. It’s the time of year for white elephants—the kind that come in wrapping paper or as 2-ton grievances that crush the joy out of family gatherings.
More than 150 years ago, a former Harvard professor named Henry was awakened from his nap by the sound of screams. His wife Frances’ dress had caught on fire. Henry rushed to her aid, but she was quickly engulfed in flames. She died the next day, leaving Henry with their six children.
I bring you good tidings of great joy, as I share the stories of several of my friends who are living and sharing their purpose and passion: Pam takes on pole dancing, Keith discovers equine therapy, and Jeff tackles Mt. Kilimanjaro! May they inspire you to find your own joy this holiday season.