Advent Day 23: Ghosts of Christmas Past

This year I'm blogging through Advent season. The goal is to put up a shorter post every day in December on topics related to the holiday, and I'd like to toy Ijusith some different media (music, poetry, art). I may not stay faithful to the format, we'll see, but I'd thank you to come along on the journey with me anyway. I hope this can enhance your Christmas experience as I'm sure it will mine.

I'm not supposed to complain. Complaining is petty. I should be grateful for all the incredible relationships in my life.

Trouble is, that's not where I'm at right now. I'm grieving. It's Christmas again and while I should be thanking God for all my precious friends and loved ones I can't help but think back to past Christmases and grieve for the relationships I've lost in the years since. 

Because all the good fortune in the world can't cancel out grief. If you lose a loved one, or a relationship, you need to honor that loss and let yourself feel it. That's what I'm coming to believe anyway.

So here I am, processing. Not sure how much of a read this will be for anybody else but maybe I deserve a little catharsis. Either way, I'm taking it.

So I dive into the memories, into the rawness of my painful Christmases past. Here I go:

Last year on Christmas Eve I drove a friend to the hospital to visit his dad, who was recovering from major surgery. It was the first bit of quality time we'd spent together in months, and I harbored delusions that the time might rekindle our friendship. I've seen him once in person in the last year. Tonight he texted me to ask for someone else's number.

I'm coming to the realization that he might be done with me, someone I once considered to be one of my closest friends. And I don't know how to be ok with it. I just wish I knew what I did ya know?

But I don't get to. So I pray, I keep going. I lean on other friends and hope against hope they won't duck out from under me too.

I think of all the other friends who cast me aside this year, either due to my own fault or a choice on their end. I miss them. I grieve for the friendships lost. 

I think about the Christmases we spent away from home when I was growing up, when we had to move constantly to stay safe. Years away from my home, my family, my beloved grandparents. The little table-top pine trees with paper ornaments we made to pretend it was Christmas after all.

I think of the kids in juvy who will spend Christmas away from home this year. I'll be with them on Christmas night and pray I can bring a little cheer into their lives.

I think of my cousin who just lost her grandmother and all the Christmases they must have spent together. I think of Newtown last year and the families who are still learning to live without their children.

I think of the thousand reasons you might mourn during Christmas. I wonder what we might do to experience life in the midst of it.

Anne Lamott compares recovering from grief to learning to dance with a limp. But I'm not dancing right now, I'm just trying to survive. And I can't imagine how my cousin and her family must be feeling, let alone all those who will spend Christmas alone this year, or on the streets. How do we celebrate Christmas when all that feels real is pain and grief and emptiness?

We dance anyway. We make light. We sing against the darkness. We hope and pray and let ourselves feel and grieve truly and deeply so that we might one day see the other side.

Advent. God came down. Emmanuel. God is with us. That's all I've got.

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