I woke up this morning feeling a little melancholy reminiscing on Christmas past. Like the scrooge I see flashes of yesterday from when I was a child thrilled with the prospect of getting G.I. Joe with the Kung-Fu grip or the new Bionic Man with telescopic vision or Batman. I still walk down the action figure aisle in Walmart to see what new heroes are on display, I pretend its for my grandson Jaeden but really it's for me (LOL).
I remember the Charlie Brown Christmas special? I know I'm really telling my age, but I think we all loved watching a big headed boy named Charlie Brown deal with life's challenges with his friends. I remember this animated episode in particular, because they had the saddest little Christmas tree. It couldn't even hold up the star, as it kept falling over. The tree looked so pitiful skinny with hardly no branches and no presents under the tree.
This year definitely feels like a Charlie Brown Christmas for some of us and I feel like that little tree as the weight of the world threatens to topple me. We all struggle sometimes even during the holidays, and the gravity of grief can be unavoidable. Despite all of our efforts, strategies and coping skills we can't avoid pain. It is an unfortunate reality we all will feel somedays. The process of pain occurs with no rhyme or reason showing up like an unwelcome house guest that gives no inclination of when they are leaving. The misery we have to manage at times pushes us to our limits of understanding, patience and beyond. Because seriously who wants to be patient really, to take one step at a time, pacing ourselves in the midst of agony. I say, “Bah Humbug!” to being patient, gracious, and polite when I'm broke, busted and disgusted, and I think most of you would agree with me (LOL).
The holidays are created to amplify our best virtues; to love, laugh and give more of ourselves cherishing our friends, neighbors and loved ones even more. We deem to give the best parts of us wrapping our hearts as a gift under the ever green tree. Unfortunately these times can also magnify our worst characteristics, extracting and concentrating our emotional or physical pain to create a cocktail of despair that would poison even the Grinch.
As I sit with my wife at the Tunnel Center on Christmas Eve, watching the IV drip slowly into her body. I bitterly talk to God telling him that the Bionic Man was a much better present than Chemo! I think about those of us who are discouraged right now during the holidays. Sometimes hope is like a gossamer thread that keeps slipping through our fingers. What I've found to be most helpful during times of stress and insanity is to just admit, “This Sucks!!!” We need to just call it what it is people and then make the best out of it, not go into some politically correct denial pretending with plastic smiles that it's all good. My imagination sees me receiving the 2012 Oscar, “And for acting like everything is perfectly fine – William Singleton!” I would walk up and receive my small statue stating to the crowd, “I didn't just minimize my problems I straight up lied to myself.”
The ingredients for denial is a toxic combination of fear, pride, anger and close mindedness. We don't want to see it for what it is. It's hard to make lemonade out of lemons when we keep calling it orange juice! At the end of the Charlie Brown special, Linus had wrapped his blanket around the tree to hold it up and the other friends watered it and put it back together. It was still a small Christmas tree, but it stood upright with a small star shining brightly on top. The challenge that taxes the core of our soul is to stand up right when our knees feel like buckling. If you need crutches or someone to lean on so be it but don't let the resentments of reality beat you down.
This isn't our first hard Christmas, but it may our toughest. However that's okay. Even without a tree, fancy Christmas lights, or a lot of presents, the gift I give myself and others is my attitude to never give up. This race is not given to the swift but the resilient, the determined, the committed, and faithful. During times of torment, the temptation to lose ourselves in our sorrow is substantial. But this isn't the time for a foxhole prayer but rather an attitude of gratitude. We must embrace the hopeful destiny that will not only endure and survive this phase of life but overcome and thrive from this point forward.
Our worst Christmas should still be a testimony of what we still have instead of what we don't. The treasures we place under the tree should not overshadow the greatest present we possess within our soul. A Flower still grows in the desert despite the boiling days and frigid nights, and their beauty blooms in defiance of the cruel elements surviving only on drops of water. There is no shame in acknowledging adversity, but we can't let it define us. We fight for every breath we take cherishing these moments that matter most. The question I ask myself and you is will we succumb to the suffering surrounding us or will we remember the blessing of simply being alive one more day. Merry Christmas Everybody may your hearts smile and laugh this holiday - WiL
Dedicated to a friend who is suffering…..You are stronger than you realize, and this too shall pass!