As the holiday commotion eases up, I feel as though I am slowly crawling out of a shell that I reluctantly went into. Having the boys literally fill our home over the holidays, is a joy. They arrived unusually early this year, and the house was abuzz. But I couldn’t seem to truly feel the excitement of having everyone home. Weighing on me was Christmas shopping, which is a chore for me, and one that inevitably disturbs me. As well I heard the voice of tradition calling me to practices that no longer felt integral to our family but in recent years I kept pushing on everyone.
This year the shopping pinnacle moment hit as I stood in line at a large department store, watching the customer ahead of me pay for her goods and prepare to leave the register. At the last moment she asked the cashier for some gift boxes, or rather for a small stack of gift boxes. The cashier gave her half a dozen boxes, stuffed into another plastic bag (separate from the one with the purchased goods). Then, while I was paying for my goods, the customer came back to the cashier to get another plastic bag to double bag the bag of boxes. My mothering Mother heart could feel the Mother Earth accumulation of these goods, the wrappings, the trimmings and the trappings, that are used only fleetingly. Goods that are created and disposed of, all for a few minutes of excitement on the big day.
But there I am, also standing in line, not taking the bag of boxes, but consuming. I am unable to pull myself completely out of the whirlwind that we call Christmas, that we celebrate as a day of, of, of… Shift. My life is no longer about providing my children with the story of the baby in the manger. I have shifted so far from that place, partly because they are no longer small children, and partly because the story does not ring to the depths of my heart. The candles of Advent – Hope, Peace, Joy and Love – those speak to my heart, and as I am standing in line at the store consuming, I close my eyes and try to pull up an image of “Peace on Earth” through my consuming.
The connection just does not happen when I am standing in line. But I am locked in the cycle. I purchase the goods, and go home to feel the depths of the meaning of this holiday. The kitchen is the starting place – baking some favorite treat, washing and roasting some vegetables – my heart is starting to ground. Time with a friend helps as she gives me the space and comfort to confess of the emptiness I am experiencing. Then, without planning, I work on a Christmas gift that is homemade. These are my favorite ones to give, these are the ones that are a reflection of my soul and the ones that feed my spirit, and they make no practical time management sense. I just need to sit and create from my hands. I need to feed the parts of me that no food, or material good, can feed.
This year it is mini collages, a mini summary of each boy’s year. I am drawn into the year as I scroll through the wonderful photos, and before I know it I am creating collages for others. I spend time loading more shots on the flash drive and heading out to the local pharmacy for the pictures.
I can feel the fullness in my heart as I cut and weave the photos to fit together, to create a unique perspective of shared experiences. I am full, full of the meaning of this holiday. Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. On Christmas Day I seem to float through, allowing long held traditions that had lost their meaning, to dissolve, and letting expectations of myself, the ‘Mother of Christmas Day Joy’, to dissolve as well. I no longer needed to Do, only to Be. The doing happened without effort, the struggle between heart and head lifted and the “gifts” of the day remain warmly within me.