My daughter and I put up the Xmas decorations the other day — at her prodding.
She and I looked wryly at each other as we positioned the faceless figurines around the manger and were puzzled finding only two wisemen. Funny how we never noticed the missing man before.... Then I looked at her and said something like, “Kinda’ funny that two non-religious people are putting up a manger scene.” She grinned. I think it’s the metaphors and memories that we both value - oh, and the belief of an all inclusive loving Jesus.
We positioned the handmade Santa donning an apron holding a flour sifter in one hand, ornaments in the other and from his pocket hung a long list. The list held the scripted names of my kids and me along with the names of the three dogs and three cats we had at the time this Santa was lovingly crafted. I remember cutting my ex’s name from the list leaving the nine of us intact. And, no wonder my favorite day of the week was the day the cleaning lady showed up back in the day when I had a cleaning lady. Hair from 6 animals was a lot!! LOL!
Any way, when we pulled the down box of Christmas decorations that had been tucked away on the basement shelves, we discovered that my cat had been using it as a bed; we found hair matted in the folds of the Christmas stockings. So I did the only thing one could do and pulled out the sweeper. I can only assume that Alfie had a bad experience with a vacuum as a young stray kitten, as the mere sight of the sweeper sends him scampering away to a hideaway for hours... Poor guy. After I sucked away the cat hair, we carefully hung the stockings by the chimney with care. Truly, we did. With care.
She put the Dr. Suess-like felt Christmas tree in the middle of the dining room table. It still makes me smile. Then she drug me outside to turn on the lights that have been strung for years around the front porch pillars. Funny how the guy subletting my home the year I was gone didn’t take down those lights.... and funny I couldn’t remember if they were Halloween colors or Xmas colors. I vaguely remembered that I could justify leaving them up if they were red and white as they could cover for Valentines Day, Fourth of July and IU basketball wins. We cheered as the red and white lights lit up when we plugged them in! One strand was out, but we both felt it was ok. Nobody in this house is lining up for perfect. At lease not any more....
Perfect. I don’t think I realized that was a goal until I discovered it wasn’t. It was Leonard Cohen that said, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Thank god. For years I had been shrouding myself in layers of adulthood - the muslin of perfection. I thought that’s what we were supposed to do. Get an education. Get married. Get a great job. Buy that big house. Have kids. Live a perfect life.
“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen
I tried all of that. It didn’t quite pan out as I hoped it would, but instead, it turned out exactly as it should. Somehow that shroud got ripped as I passed through some sharp life obstacles and started to tear - letting air in - letting me breathe again. My therapist was a careful surgeon and gently cut away the duck taped mess around my soul while quietly leading me on a path of self discovery..... and healing.
Yes there is so much more, but this holiday season I am reminded that family, friends, memories, metaphors and messiness are big pieces of my story. Oh yup, and gratitude. So much gratitude for all the messiness.
Happy Holidays All!