I must accept the reality of the season as it is
This was the year I was going to do it. I was going to shed the evil commercialism of the season of goodwill and ring through the holidays with cheer on my lips and glad tidings in my heart. I would be a shiny new silver bell, my voice the pure clean tone of the holliest, jolliest Christmas. Gifts to my loved ones would be individual, fiscally and socially responsible and would reflect my love for them perfectly. They would be received with joyful tears, and this year’s gift would remain forever in their hearts.
Ninety email notifications from my Amazon elves bring me back to the present (get it — present?). One reports a delay.
What? Someone is not going to get their mass-produced, overpackaged, push-the-button-already fake cashmere hat and scarf set that will be a fine token of my Christmas devotion?
It is a semi-conscious Christmas. My thoughtful, spiritual intent juxtaposes sharply against the heartless machine of online commerce and the blinding glitter of retailers in the most important season of their year. I realize that I must accept the reality of the season as it is. Exactly as it is. Budget-busting shopping trips and seemingly impersonal online wish lists, and even the poverty and hunger that exists in what I have idealized as a season of abundance.
This Christmas, I see reality as a seamless fabric, everything an intrinsic and mystical part of everything else. I will accept, not blindly, but consciously, the reality of what is, in the hopes that by acknowledging even the painful and unpleasant aspects mindfully and with an open heart, I can become grounded in the recognition that ultimately, however you define it/him/her, nothing but God exists.
God exists, showing us realities, such as estrangements from family or friends. Accepting this reality as it is can spark the desire for reconciliation, forgiveness and the conclusion that in the separation there is a latent and burning potential for a deep, healing love. God exists, helping us to accept that there is poverty and hunger when the twinkling lights go out, and that accepting this reality may open in us a desire to embrace it. Perhaps, by helping out in a soup kitchen, toy drive, other service or with our mindful prayers. God exists to show us that the pictures of what really is don’t necessarily always fit our pictures of what should be, and that there is beauty and opportunity for love in the space between.
In this season, I seek grace, peace and forgiveness like the Magi seek the Christ child. I follow my star, and then I run from it. I run from the vulnerability that grace asks of me, the yielding that actually brings peace, and the risk that may lead to forgiveness.
They all exist in me, all the frayed endpoints of a scrap of Christmas ribbon. If I only but bring the ends together to form an infinite circle will the points kiss in paradox — cheer and Scroogeishness, commercialism and authentic generosity. Online gift lists and handwritten love notes, dictated seasonal morality and melt-my-heart moments of gratitude. Together, they are totality, wholeness, original perfection.
My beautiful mother spends hours before a family holiday celebration writing limericks for each person who will be there. She incorporates things that are personal and agonizes over rhyme. For example:
Three cheers for that Christmas gal Mari,
Whose life is at times clear and starry,
She writes and she sings,
Glad tidings she brings,
May she not meet the fate of Mata Hari.
Often, the limerick would be attached to a big, fat, very impersonal check. Enthusiastic, wonderful, giving, silly love … and cold, hard cash. What’s not to love?
So what? So … I’m going to give myself and my slippers, remote control robots and hat and scarf sets a break, already. I am going to bring them (well, UPS will bring them) overpackaged and wrapped (well, by my elves) to my family and friends with my truest and most open heart and best wishes for a joyful Christmas. And I’m going to write limericks. Or something.
Through the range of all the emotions and realities of the season, I will remember the wholeness, the completeness that exists here and now. They are all a gift, if I can recognize them. They are a gift to myself — of an intimacy, a love beyond words, right at the heart of each shiny, stressed, singing-my-heart-out, cookie-burning, limerick-writing, push-the-button-already, manic and absolutely perfect Christmas moment.
Wishing you and yours a holly, jolly, Semi-Conscious Christmas!
Mari Rose Hale is a Glenwood Springs writer. She blogs at mariroseland.wordpress.com. Semi-Conscious appears on the fourth Tuesday of each month in Body & More.
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