There was something exquisitely touching for me, about this Christmas.
Once again, my holy~day was simple and quiet in ways not typical for most at Christmas time. Until this year.
During the last 30 years, due to poverty, due to taking the road less travelled, I have often been “alone” at Christmas, even when together with my four children, their three fathers, and numerous housemates in various iterations of granted and chosen family.
Poverty is an alienator for many during holidays, especially during Christmas, which has developed such strong commercial emphasis. I have been grateful in recent years to have started to “fit in” better, now that handmade, upcycled and modest gift-giving has become somewhat more of a trend.
I have also been alientated during Christmas by illness, if you want to call it that. I was diagnosed with a mental illness 2 years ago, compassionately and professionally. Five years before, I had been unprofessionally, and, I think it is fair to say, unkindly diagnosed by a family memeber. Responsibly considering this unprofessional and unkind diagnosis, nonetheless, I went to seek medical help. A doctor professionally misdiagnosed me, telling me I was “just having a spiritual crisis.” A crisis certainly followed as the effects of “illness” continued to catch up with me.
My own personal take on my “mental illness” is that I am a particularly sane modern human, in a world that is crazy with consumer capitalism and disregard for the cost to our life support system, Earth. I am not numb to the feelings and emotions that are inevitably come with clearly seeing and acknowledging this human insanity.
But I digress.
Five years ago, at Christmas time, I was reverberating from having been declared the crazy one, yet, while unable to find a professional to clarify for me if my brain was working as it ought, or not. I had what I remember to be my most lonesome Chirtmas yet, the first during which I was more tangibly separated than ever before from my four children.
I passed the day that year remembering Christmases past, during which I had been a single, married and divorced mother. I had ever resourcefully found ways to make Christmas special, delicious, rich and lovely despite poverty, despite the pull to spend money, despite being distanced from family (physically or emotionally), despite being blue and torn in my inner personal world.
This year, this historical Covid Christmas of 2020, I was alone again. No gifts were placed under my small, undecorated Christmas trees (I have two, yes, I am a strange duck.) No stocking, no carols, no alcohol. No coloured lights. I did receive gifts from two of my children. I opened them while crouched just inside the front door on the mat, in a mask at my wasband’s house while my daughters in the onesises from their dad’s new girlfriend watched at a distance. They had been making crepes for breakfast.
It was a short visit.
When I came home and made fruit salad, whipped cream and caramel sauce to wrap in my own crepes. This breakfast I have made countless Christmas mornings and on many birthdays too.
Somehow it has been lovely for me to know that this year, more than ever, so many others also know what it is to be doing Christmas like I have been for thirty years.
More people’s budgets have been constrained. More families have been contending with distance, whether due to travel and visiting restrictions, or to the conflicts that have come out around differences in ideology and ways of behaving during these Covid Times.
More people are experiencing less social connectivity in regard to their former friends circles, for many of these same reasons.
I know that many more are also, maybe for the first time, due to the change in avaialbility of our distractions, feeling the Christmas blues more overtly.
I am glad that the eople giving time and care to their blues might be having to hear “be merry, count your blessings” less often that I, so often, before Covid Times, heard, as if my blues were unwarranted. More people know now that blues are blues and that “positive thinking” doesn’t quite cover it.
I am more settled this year in the assertion that I am and have not been “complaining.” I chose my path in life, thought I did not consciously choose all of what has accompanied me on it. This year, as in the past, I have reflected upon my circumstances and felt my feelings, and ever more deeply considered what I might do differently to get the results I want. I have been more consciously celebrating my current and past ability and capacity to respond creatively to limiting and unwanted conditions.
I feel no glee about the fact that so many others are now facing similar mental difficulutes, financial and other constraints. I have simply been enjoying the experience of being less different, myself, and thus somehow less alone in a world now experiencing more constraints.
In fact I have been experiencing myself as more free and empowered this year BECAUSE of my past constraints. Three decades of limiting means have a way of encouraging one to face, grieve and heal the emotional pain of limitations, and find possibilities for expanding past the edges of what was hitherto deemed impossible. Covid Times have given me the chance to access empowering and transformational processes and space holders with the capacity and ability to be navigators with me, through digital means.
The Christmas wishes I have shared with others have seemed to land more impactfully this year than they have in the past.
When friends have been so busy, surrounded by excess, noise and kaffulffe during years gone by, my wishes for warmth and simple, sweet loveliness may have understandably occured as unremarkable and quaint.
This year, while we’ve all had more time and perhaps more wherewithal, more subtle delicacy has touched us.
I certainly have, this year, taken time to hear and articulate whispers that have echoed during countless Chritmasses. As I ate my breakfast crepes this year, I took the time to send messages to two friends who I have rememberd with fondness over the decades. One of the friends was with me when I first ate fruit salad crepes in a restaurant on a rare meal out when we were both young single mothers. Christmas and birthday crepes thus became a thing. The other friend had given me her recipe for toffee sauce when my first son, now almost thirty, was a tyke. I have thought of them both over bowls of crepe batter and saucepans of bubbling toffee suace in the making in countless spaces, and never reached out. This year I did.
And this year I have made time to write about how this Chritams, as strange and daunting as it may seem to those of you who have been used to busy, spendsome, heavily populated Christmases, has been for me.
I want to write also about how it might become for you, from now on, as a possible time of more simple, warm and nourishing holy~day loveliness.
There is a lot of talk these days about “going back to normal.”
My Christmas wish for you is that from now on, Christmas might be more like it was this year:
Less a consumeristic brouhaha.
Less makeup and more ease for your feet, back and bank account.
One after which less single use plastic and ripped up wrapping paper are put out for waste disposal pickup.
One of delicious and nutritious less hastily store-bought and more leisurely homemade foods, which are perhaps more locally sourced and prepared with love and good (maybe digitally connected) company.
One that involves less or no time on busy roads or in the air and so produces less carbon footprint, thus bringing relief to Earth’s overtaxed ecosystems.
One that requires less alcohol and less pretending, and consists of less pressure and less obligation, for now and always.
In years to come may the disconnects caused by differences in conflicting ideology be reduced.
May the gifts of this Covid Christmas, visible and invisible, continue to reveal themselves over time to come.
May our world become more well by it all, less impoverished, less mentally blue, and less crazy, and more full of peace, joy and love.