How’s everyone doing?
If you live in a zone that has locked down all social gatherings, indoors and outdoors for the entire holiday season, it is a LOT to process.
Maybe you are hooked on every newsreel… addicted to the roll out of stats and the power of information. Maybe you are ambivalent to the rhetoric and just go along without making waves. Maybe you are doubting the logic behind the restrictions or the origins of this super-germ scheme. Maybe you are worried that no matter what the truth is, there is collective suffering that affects all of us… today and tomorrow.
It has been interesting to watch the spectrum of responses within my own circle of connections as Christmas drew near. Some have been constant in their attempts to remain as normal-functioning as usual and have mournfully coped with the losses of freedom. Some have swung from one end to another, preaching the necessities of rules in the beginning and then quickly fatiguing of them. And some, pick and choose which rules suit them best for the wants of the day.
Being a general rule-follower as a person, a rule-enforcer as a professional, and living with a partner who is also both of those things… well, we have been consistent in observing the letter of the law. Not only to remain healthy for my immuno-compromised mother-in-law, but to not feel like a hypocrite when looking in the mirror… asking others to do, what we cannot.
I promised myself it would TASTE the same as every other year. And it did. I comforted my soul with visions of my kids cultivating their own flavours, sounds, and sights for the holidays; a freedom I remember joyfully creating for myself as a young adult. Mum was a masterful host of big or small gatherings, making an art of finding new and meaningful ways to show her love toward others. Whatever the favorites were, there was always something new to try or experience.
So, how did I become so singularly focused on ONE way to celebrate the holidays, with reinvention being the part of the model for honoring traditions?
To witness my grown children enveloping Christmas Day with the ‘family’ they surround themselves with and the ways in which they interpret its meaning, felt like freedom. The confidence and independence of their celebrations this year has made my heart happy and humbled… stirring an awakening.
The holidays do not need to be grand, busy and expensive. I don’t need to plan and execute multiple social connections in the chase for goodwill. My family does not need ME to do it ALL… baking, crafting, gift suggestions, or my turkey dinner… they can do it!
It has come to light recently that some don’t necessary like everything I have busted my back (literally) to do, in order to create a Christmas masterpiece. How’s that for a hard-stop truth serum? THEY… do not enjoy the things… and I am spinning frantically doing the THINGS!
Furthermore, there is a rumour murking about that my turkey dressing is DRY, so I guess nobody is going to miss that! It’s a vicious rumour and not at all true, although there have been some Christmases where diet was the focus and not the flavour….sorry kids!
We took another step further this year and exchanged names instead of buying gifts for everyone. WHEW! For this non-shopper it was a relief, but also gave time to focus on those who could really use a helping hand… like a family we adopted that was escaping domestic violence and did not have winter clothing. If I had been in my usual chaotic, best-holiday-ever mode, I would have missed the blessing of generosity pouring in from neighbours, friends and colleagues who all participated in raising three times the amount the family needed to stay warm and fed this winter.
But 2020 was not just about new norms for socializing. There was more. Much, much more.
Uncertainty. Conflict. Tension. Insecurity. Anger. Blame. Sorrow.
If any of these themes held great pain or discomfort for you this year, it is no surprise. 2020 picked away at a thick pretense that would stop us from seeing some of our darkest human tendencies; how we hold wealth, privilege, knowledge and rights. The polarization of multi-faceted issues as a species has thrust us into uncomfortable conversations that seem to have no resolution or agreement.
In a conscious search for clarity, which voices get heard? What road will map out the next steps to righting deeply rooted wrongs? How do we glean the lessons of 2020 without ostracizing or judging one another?
We can’t. We won’t. We are humans.
Now, I am not adopting a gloomy prediction for the future of mankind. Quite the opposite. What I am suggesting is a fundamentally realistic view toward the ugliness we currently and historically are capable of procuring as a species.
Weapons. Conquests. Poverty. Greed. Racism. Genocide.
These labels have been used in the conversations around COViD19… interesting. Have we experienced or inflicted centuries worth of atrocities in one year, AND is this the topic that will define our culture in this era?
I certainly hope not. This year has brought significant setbacks and negative consequences for a large percentage of the world, yet I have seen countless acts of selfless concern, generosity, creative connections, and encouragement to tell me there is more to 2020 than the anger and doom.
I see this as the narrow daylight between the good in us and the dark that would act as though it is stronger and scarier than whatever lies in that thin, distant glow right before the start and end of EVERY day… the fleeting, wide blanket of hope that moves across the entire earth, endlessly streaming us together with others who are eager to observe the day come… and go.
Perhaps human wrongs will never disappear. Evolve… yes. Move on from one thing to the next… definitely. But gone? Not likely.
This is our plight. This is who we are. Our capacity to hurt is just as accessible as our capacity to heal. If we aren’t fighting with others who are different from us, we are fighting amongst ourselves… or the system… or going to war within ourselves.
Does it mean we give up good works, just causes, and holy indignations about the state of affairs in our world? LAWRRRD, no!
But I want to stop beating my head against the wall wondering why folks don’t seem to notice the dawn breaking as I do. I want to use my energy to reach into that narrow gap between what has ended and what is beginning… pull myself to the edges… and stretch each flicker of light that dangles within my grasp, determined to never let the dark have the final word.
Okay, 2020… I am awake… you have my full attention!
And… I haven’t even started to unpack what it has been like to be an aware and honorable police officer in this climate of anti-everything, but I can tell you this:
Whispers of kindness out-speak shouts of anger.
Solitude offers two holy companions: Stillness and Silence
Life is CHANGE, but we choose HOW.Lesson’s Learned in 2020
As my beautiful Gma-in-law used to say when talking about some incredulous news or difficult circumstance… “well… there you are”.
INDEED. Here we are.
However narrow the daylight, may each day in 2021 start and end with a sliver of hope, waking and sleeping with gratitude for another chance to stretch toward love, healing, and equality toward those to whom we share this planet.