The lights from the Christmas tree sparkle off the tinsel casting red, green and blue shadows on the walls. Scents of pine, cinnamon and apple fill the air with mouth watering deliciousness, and promises of gastronomical fulfillment. My daughter and her friends have to be peeled from the ceiling just to be told it is time for school to start. The overflow of excitement runs out of their pours like a viscous liquid that immediately attaches itself to anyone who comes near it like coagulated molasses on a cold winter’s morning. They have been ready for the coming morning carnage for weeks and conversations which are overheard by parents everywhere are filled with what sort of LOOT they are about to tear from vigilantly wrapped packages which were hidden by the gifters in secret locations around the home and offices in places the CIA, KGB and FBI could never find. (But a 10 year old knows of these places and can snoop out a gift in 5 seconds if left alone.)
In my car, under my tree, in my wardrobe and my office hide such packages. Carefully picked out, superficially covered in vibrant recycled, ecologically friendly paper. The tags with names carefully scrawled on them by my shaking hand dangle in the breeze of fresh, canned air that streams from the heating ducts. Their dance reminds me of the hope and joy I am supposed to be feeling this season. A hope and joy I have been looking for but unable to find.
Oh, I see these lost emotions on the faces of children and adults as I pass by them on the streets. Their laughter and light hearted moods are more contagious than the latest flu epidemic. But it seems this season I have been immunized against all the cheer this season normally brings me. Maybe it has to do with the fact I have been unable to truly enjoy the normal festivities of the general populace of my fair city. Maybe it has to do with all the time I’ve spent over that past few months immersed in creating the holiday experience for others that I’ve neglected my own requirements for a festive season. Maybe… I don’t know.
You see, over the past week I have listened to a metric ton of Christmas music, watched countless hours of holiday movies and have even made an attempt at spreading joy, hope, kindness and cheer to others all in an effort t to find the peace of the season within me. I have been unsuccessful. I don’t know why these feelings are so elusive for me this year. Sure, I’ve had tough times in the past garnering the good will towards my fellow men but I was in a very different place then. A place where my only warmth was afforded to me in the form of a prickly, raw woolen gray naval blanket with no family or loved ones to comfort me. Long lonely days seated on cold, dark gray decks reading books with missing pages and eating leftover cold food and drinking warm, stale milk. But even then I managed to find a lining of silver on a bleak and weary day.
Today, not so. I have many blessings in my life; a family who loves me, not one but two jobs where I know when I am not there my presence is missed. I have friends who call me out of the blue to tell me about their day and want to spend time with me and value my opinion in matters of decisions that will affect their lives for years to come. And even with all these blessings, which I’ve counted and stored in the vaults of my memory, I still am unable to engage in the joyous festivities that seem to have taken over not just my town, state and country but also the world at large.
My search, within my own corporeal body and my not so corporeal body has been an in depth raping of all that I hold near and dear to me as well as my belief system. (Which at times goes against the knowledge of the physical world and all the science I know to be true and untrue.) Yet still, I have been unable to call forth the emotions from the memories which have always served to cheer me up in the past. The memories of receiving THE gift on Christmas morning that reaffirms in a tainted teens childhood that there just really may be a Santa Claus or that Hope is not just a platitude spouted by a preacher on a pulpit or a crazy, hairy, smelly, toothless, homeless man on a cold and dingy street corner, have all failed to bubble to the surface of my being the sense of tranquility I normally feel at this time of year.
Yes, I know I am not supposed to talk about these things. But I just can’t seem to help myself. My mind won’t allow me to NOT talk about it. I have tried to bury my blemished mood and I have been triumphant for the most part in not letting on to others what I am experiencing or in this case, not experiencing. But now it is a week before Christmas and time is running short, the light of hope that casts out the shadows of pain this time of year has yet to shine upon my psyche and warm the coldness that has wormed its way inside my body, taken root and started to send its icy branches to every part of my ID. This coldness cannot be warmed by platitudes and empty actions. The frigidity can only be thawed by an intangible, unseen and overlooked gift. I’m looking for that gift. I believe it is the one gift that will reinvigorate my childlike awe most people feel this time of year.
This is my yoke, my quest and my struggle.