Some people would say that the magic of Christmas and the imposition of it’s merriment on the world is cruel at worst and an illusion at best. Ba Humbug. One can decorate, cook, buy presents, sing carols, and attend parties with an empty, sad heart. No merriment at all within them. It’s true for more people than would like to admit. Some check out and decide to abandon the effort altogether. Ba Humbug That was me for the past seven or so Christmases. I couldn’t change the radio station fast enough if a carol was played. I waited until the last possible moment to decorate and only did for the children. Out of obligation, I bought the gifts for those on my list. But there was no real joy.
This year was the first year I had anticipation. I got my tree up before Thanksgiving because my extended family were coming over and it would be the only time for them to see my new home. Most likely, they would be my only visitors for the entire season, so I went for it. I had the spark this year because my new life of transition was complete. I was settled in my new home, with my new husband, in my new city, and I was honestly, the happiest I’ve ever been probably in all of my life. Not counting of course the first six months when I was blissfully unaware of anything at all. I was a venerable Bob Cratchit.
Did you pick up on the was?
Life has a funny way of knocking you down a peg or two off that mountain top when you least expect it. I found myself at the peak. The most tippiest of tippy tops, with my arms outstretched and a smile on my face. And in a blink of an eye I was sent tumbling. Sincerely, didn’t see it coming. As I fell, I was hitting my head on rocks, tearing my clothes on branches, and scraping the flesh of my fingers as I grasped at anything that would stop my fall. And as soon as I could gain my footing, I charged back up the hill, like a warrior, determined to claim my spot on top. Happiness and bliss were the goal. I had to get back there; it felt so good to be there, so warm, and safe, and peaceful. But then my foot slipped again until I was left bruised, and sore, and tired.
In this present moment, I’m regaining my strength, resting somewhere on a ledge wondering if I should try again to reach that peak of promise or … maybe just let that dream go. Because maybe the nay sayers are right. Maybe joy is just an illusion. A denial of reality. A big joke played on pathetic people who are bound to fail.
Maybe. Maybe. But, maybe not.
The truth is life sucks sometimes. It’s not going to be easy and happy all the time. And if our goal is to be easy and happy…you might miss opportunities to grow and learn. My husband and I are trying very hard to take recent circumstances and convert them to growth. Every spouse has a choice to allow bad things that happen to drive a wedge or bring you closer. We have a choice to see the bad of what happened or the good that can come from it. We can be a Scrooge and allow the bad things in our life to make us bitter and closed off, or we can look around and try to find reasons to keep the faith.
If our goal is only to reach the top, maybe we are missing something? Cause even today when I’m sad, and a little on the side of heartbroken, I’m also kind of in awe of where I’m sitting. I’m looking back to the beginning of my journey and am realizing that I was WAY down in the valley when I started. So far down I can’t even see it anymore. And no matter how far I fall this time, there are a number of plateaus I’ve reached along the way that will keep me from ever falling that low ever again. And this ledge isn’t so bad. It’s kind of cute, and sweet with its moss growing on the rocks, and twigs growing in the crevices. It’s not the gigantic amazing view that you get at the top, but it’s beautiful to take in just the same. And I missed that before because I was trying so hard to reach my goal.
Last night my husband and I didn’t try to solve our problems. We held each other. That’s all. We held each other all night long and kept our hearts as close as we could.
That elusive concept of joy is not dependent on circumstances. It’s a state of mind. If I focus on my failures instead of how far I’ve come, I’m robbing myself of the victory I’ve already won and I will lose that hope that Christmas offers. That LIFE offers.
I’m struck this morning by a paradox. That sometimes when you feel as if all is lost you realize that you have everything you could ever want. But it’s nothing you can conquer like a mountain. It’s nothing you can control. It’s something you have to be willing to experience no matter where you find yourself along the way. It may be for me that I won’t reach that mountain top any time soon. It may be that my journey has a few more bumps and bruises coming.
This Christmas I’m going to challenge myself not to shut down the experience no matter where it leads.