In the darkest time of the year…
This hippie girl knows that we are in the darkest week of the year. The solstice arrived on December 21, just before Christmas. I think in all our souls we feel a tinge of it, in the frustration with shoppers, the dread of seeing family members next week, the exhaustion that brushes at the edges of your mind as you think about making all that food.
So in the spirit of the Sisterwives, this is a post to light your way through the night, to give you a beacon to come home to when you’re feeling just a little bit overwhelmed this holiday season. This post is for you.
Every Christmas season, my soul perks up with a little sparkle of joy. All the lights, the smell of pine, the candlelight services, hot chocolate, and softly falling snow. There’s still something magical and childlike about it all. In spite of this, nearly every December for the past 7 years has been very difficult for me, with the exception of last year. I’m determined to turn the tide again this year, but I only have control of certain things.
It’s those certain things that keep me afloat in December. That, despite the December hardships I’ve endured, I still see it as a magical month. Hope springs eternal, I guess you could say. But I have beautiful memories of this season.
Like two years ago, Christmas Eve of 2012. I was just home from North Carolina, had just passed the 5th anniversary of my sisters’ death, and had just been re-traumatized by personal experiences as well as the recent shooting in Newtown. I was emotionally worn and ragged. But I accompanied my family to a Christmas Eve service, then we decided to go walk around the Broadmoor Hotel. This is an older 5 star hotel in Colorado Springs, set next to a little lake. Every year for Christmas, they decorate with copious amounts of lights strung around the large old trees that dot the property.
This Christmas Eve, it was snowing lightly as we drove up from downtown. Coming down the long stretch of Lake Avenue (the fancy-schmancy Old Money neighborhood of Colorado Springs), I caught my breath as the Broadmoor came into sight.
It was impossibly beautiful. Like a lighthouse in the middle of a storm, my soul-ship jumped at the hope I saw twinkling in the lights before me.
A light, dusty, Hollywood snow twinkled down from the sky, coating the ground with just the right amount of white. As we walked up to the hotel, flakes danced down through the lit trees to brush against my nose. I was entranced.
Before or since, I have never had such a lovely Christmas Eve. It was freezing, but absolutely stunning. We strolled around the lake with hot chocolate in hand. It was so iconic that I dare say it started a new family tradition; we’ve been going there for a Christmas walk every year since.
These are the things that keep us. In the moments before Christmas as the solstice approaches and all gets very dark, these are the moments that bring the light back. They whisper, “Don’t worry. The sun is returning.”
Find your beacon.
In the middle of this holiday, no matter where you are. If you’re ecstatic. If you’re depressed. If you’re overwhelmed, over your head, can’t seem to find your way through, lost your hope in humanity. If you’re ecstatic, and anticipating your children’s face on Christmas morning, and waiting for the One to pop the question you have suspicion he/she/they’s going to ask, just got a bonus, just got a promotion, and feel gloriously light. No matter where you are, who you are, find your beacon.
If you’re in the dark, it will light you. If you’re in the light, you know dark times will come at some point, and that beacon will see you through.
It’s seen me through the worst Decembers of my life – the death of my sisters, a terrible marriage proposal, a divorce 2 years later (finalized in, you guessed it, December), when I’m shaking in my boots almost literally from the shock of being retraumatized. It’s moments like this that have lit the way and have reminded me that good, light, and beauty still exist in the world.
Take the little moments to savor the snow, revel in the twinkling lights, let the luscious hot chocolate swirl on your tongue.
Really, isn’t that what Christmas should be about?
What’s your beacon this holiday season? What has it been in the past? What are you being intentional about this Christmas?