I drafted this post a week ago, before the tragedy happened in Newtown. There aren’t any words to express the sadness and hopelessness that made me feel. I can’t imagine how people in Newtown are going to get through this. I hope everyone can find some peace this season.
Christmas really is for kids. As a kid, there was nothing more exciting than looking forward to Christmas, writing and rewriting the wish list and the thrill of staying up late on Christmas Eve hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus.
I wish we could bottle that feeling because again, with Christmas just a week away, I am not feeling it. It could be mid-March for all I know. The only reason I know it’s not mid-March is the TV ads are telling me that wealthy, white suburban people get a Lexus for Christmas and the not-as-wealthy folks end up at Zales for affordable diamonds.
Other than the commercials and the lovely poinsettias behind Frank & Julie at the KTVU 10 O’Clock News desk, I’d have no idea that we’re about to celebrate Chrismahanukwanzakah. I would love to feel that sense of excitement and anticipation again, but every year it gets farther away. I think having kids must help you stay connected to that festive feeling. I don’t know, because instead of kids, I have cats. Cats don’t display any level of excitement for anything except maybe fresh deli meats and cheeses.
If life’s circumstances had been different, I may have had kids, but here we are with a house full of critters. We love being able to rescue cats and give them a happy home, but in recent years I’ve realized where that leaves us on the big cosmic wheel of life. We’re out on a spoke, drifting, and we’ve not left any ties to keep us connected to the center.
Children are the connections along those spokes of the wheel of life. Each generation lets that spoke get longer and longer, but it’s always connected to the center where everything is new, everything is exciting and there's a feeling that anything is possible, always. As I get older, now seeing the horizon line that once never existed, I get farther and farther away from that center.
I think that’s what family is all about, staying connected and maintaining those lines so you don’t float away into space. This is the time of year when we finally take a brief break from our hectic lives to enjoy our families, even if sometimes we want to send them adrift on a raft far out into the Pacific. They’re still family and there’s nobody on the planet you’ll ever be more connected to.
So, what to do about it… I’m not about to start having kids now, although I could use some help around the house. I think the answer is to give more. Not gifts or stuff, but time, love and attention to those we love (and to strangers). To get outside of myself and my head – to actually put on pants and leave the house to connect with others. So I’m volunteering a little, going to a few parties and I might fire up the biscotti baking machine once again, which isn’t so much a machine but working the Cuisinart and the oven to bake a ton of biscotti for friends & family. And if I can manage it, I might dress up the cats in matching sweaters for a Christmas family portrait under the tree.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season.