The first snowstorm of the season has left our city looking like a magical postcard. Everything is transformed into a winter wonderland where imperfections are covered up under the puffy whiteness of new beginnings. Right now, I feel like my life could use a blanket of that snow!
The past few days have been both busy and difficult ones. We have been preparing our house and our lives for Christmas, living with hope in our hearts and running the gauntlet of seasonal commitments... all the while knowing that the phone could ring any day to tell me that my father has lost his battle with cancer.
Every phone call has become something to treasure, even the awful, incoherent ones like this afternoon. Hearing his voice, however tired, means that I can still reach him on the other end of a phone line. Every chance I have to tell him that I love him is one more time that he will hear those words from my lips as well as from my heart.
Our Christmas tree is a mad celebration of homemade and purchased ornaments that stretch back all the way to the first ornament I stitched when I was a little girl who wanted to make a Mary for the tree.
I have cardinals and a banjo to remind me of my Bop and Jet, precious grandparents that I lost while still in my teens.
Talented friends have made many beautiful ornaments for me over the years... this is just the most recent one to grace this year’s tree...
or a carving from Debbie that will someday grace my daughter’s tree when she has a home of her own.
Every year I try to make a different ornament for friends and family, always keeping one for our tree, like this Santa from a few years ago.
Sometimes, like this year, Christmas can also be about preparing to say Goodbye.
This little bear graced the trees of my Childhood. Made of Chenille pipe cleaners, “Boris” has been slowly rusting and rotting away from the inside. Last year, I couldn’t bear to throw him out and put off the decision. This year, the analogy between an ornament and my father’s failing body seems almost too much to bear. (OK... that made me groan through my tears!)
We can be Creative in how we let go... as well as how we hold on to things.
INHALE: Some Inhales feel more shaky than others these days, but every moment still teaching me something when I let go and take time to feel things instead of staying numb and busy. As I was hanging my ornaments this year, I was aware of how my best friend is starting her tree over almost from scratch after losing everything in a fire last spring. Each one of my ornaments has a story and a legacy... but in the end, they are all just stuff. No matter what gets broken, lost, destroyed of thrown out, nothing can take away the memories that brought us joy. It is to that knowledge and hope that I cling to as I take each breath.
EXHALE: Create a new piece of history for your home, buy a new ornament that speaks to you, a new tablecloth to lay out or a new story of the holidays to read to children. Try a new cookie recipe to share with a friend. No matter which holiday you celebrate in this darkening time of year, add something new to your life this week. Take the time to LET GO of something else this week as well... a negative emotion or something broken that doesn’t work. When everything felt out of control today, I sat down and sorted the pen jar near the phone and threw out 6 of the pens that really didn’t work anymore. It felt surprisingly good.