I said I’m taking a break, and that is still the case. I’ve been doing my writing elsewhere and I’ll return to more regular posting soon. But this is my journal – with every major moment of my past 5 or more years chronicled here. I’m writing here tonight to look back and remember, to fill in the spaces when I look through the eye of nostalgia to piece it all back together.
It’s almost midnight on Christmas Eve. The house is quiet. The kids are upstairs asleep, and the presents are laid out by the tree. It’s 64 degrees outside, even now at this hour. We wore short sleeves today. It’s raining, and we are sleeping with the windows open on Christmas Eve. It doesn’t feel like Christmas this year.
The timing of my major life shift sort of straddled across two years. It was November of 2014 when it all exploded, and last year was the hardest Christmas of my life, hands down. It was right in the middle of the eight week stretch when I cried every single day. Everyday. This year is easier, but it is still my first Christmas on my own with the kids. In a new house – with everything else new as well. The last of many firsts. We are about to turn the page past the firsts, and I am so ready.
I was prepping holiday food yesterday and listened to this podcast that pierced me straight through. Rob Bell interviews Alexander Shaia about the first century details and interpretations within the Christmas story that modern audiences tend to miss. It was pretty illuminating to hear him speak about the metaphorical significance of the angel appearing first to shepherds in the night, and I found so many parallels to this season of my life. “This radiance is born in darkness. Actually the only place this great radiance can be born is in the depths of great darkness. And the only place this great radiance is born in us is in our own darkness where we feel so raw and perhaps unworthy, where we feel so much that we have lost our standing and our privilege before society, whatever that is. Whatever the raw places in ourselves [are] this is where we go to look for the new radiance. … That’s where the radiance begins, in the dark places, in the low places within ourselves…. This is where it begins. And you may not believe me and that’s okay, but lean on my knowing and the Christ’s knowing and just act as if right now, and God will take it the rest of the way. This is where it begins. Mary is this incredible presence of knowing a positive future, and if you know a positive future, no matter what you are going through today, know that this is not the end. This is the beginning.”
It’s so much this time of year – Christmas and the closing of one year and the dawn of another. It’s no accident that it falls in line with the winter solstice as well (on this side of the globe anyway). The contrast of the darkest day of the year punctuated with little twinkling lights everywhere.
Joy works that way as well, I think. Powered by gratitude and mindfulness, it twinkles and shines through the mud of whatever is aching you.
We made cookies this afternoon. The kids played loudly upstairs while I finished up some kitchen tasks, and they were exploding with excitement all afternoon. We went to my grandparents’ house where I have spent each and every Christmas Eve of my 34 years. We ate and laughed and talked above the chaos of happy kids. My two played with their cousins in the same way I played with mine more than two decades ago. So much has changed, and so much has stayed the same.
We drove home, bellies full. The kids looked at Christmas lights out the car windows. They brushed their teeth when we got home and then set out a snack for Santa and headed straight to bed. We huddled, all three of us, in my big bed with the window open in this bizarre rainy heat wave. Norah fell asleep first, and Jude was almost there but jolted up for a minute when the dog shook his collar. I thought that was a reindeer, mama. I kissed his head, he finally fell asleep, and I came downstairs to set up gifts and record a few things here for you – and mostly just for me.
I’m grateful for every single minute. All of it. This Christmas, more than ever, I feel broken but also whole and real. And I see the light unfolding in front of me. The lights are flickering in the smallest of spaces, and this is the beginning.