I don’t need a holiday or a feast to feel grateful for my children, the sun, the moon, the roof over my head, music, and laughter, but I like to take this time to take the path of thanks less traveled. – Paula Poundstone
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. – Helen Keller
To many people holidays are not voyages of discovery, but a ritual of reassurance. – Philip Andrew Adams
The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory. – Gary Zukav
Group this week was not easy. It is no secret that this time of year is difficult for many. Our theme this week was celebration and solstice and while it was appropriate, another implicit theme of the evening was remembrance and a somber honoring. Our writers miss their families and their children. Bringing up memories is complex. It is painful and joyful at once. It triggers both happiness to share these memories and a visible sadness.
Writing can hold that. By the end of our group, we concluded there. We worked through some of the most complex and challenging realities we experience throughout the year. We had it on paper and then held it in the open space of of the circle. We made room to witness each other and ourselves in the winter quiet.
Below, you will hear their stories. I hold them next to my story this season. I hope you do too.
WHAT IS AHEAD
Giving birth to a verdant future.
That’s my hope.
Time of pain, I did have a lot and it’s kept going.
I wish that it produces something, hopefully,
Fall yesterday, winter today, with the snowflakes
like a clean, white lace, so gorgeous.
That’s joyful, don’t you think?
Laces, snowflakes, I love the complexity of those. It attracts
me, my eye like the monarch butterfly.
I can’t stop looking at those silhouettes, one so white
and fragile, the other one so fragile and colorful,
both so “light” that they can stay in the
space for a period of time. Determination!
It’s bringing me happiness just to look at them.
Some in winter, some in summer,
spring, and fall. I’m going to continue to be
more hopeful for my future.
WHEN I WAS A CHILD
Christmas – when I was a child, I would wake up before anyone else, run downstairs and stand before the Christmas tree. It would be brightly lit. Knowing in my childish mind that Santa had been there. Cookie half eaten, gifts under the tree, all the lights glowing, it was the most beautiful thing to me as a child. Then I would quietly grab my large stocking and run back upstairs to wake my mother this time only the two of us would share. We would open each gift and she would make a big deal out of every little thing. These are my favorite memories of Christmas and of my mother.
As I get older, I shared this same tradition with my children. I can only hope it meant as much to them as it did to me.
IN THE WINTER
Christmas, New Year’s, a new year. New. That’s what this is. This time of year that was once steeped in generations of tradition is now completely new. I feel it intellectually and viscerally and yet it still remains a mystery – how our mental, emotional, and physical beings can be so altered by is change, by definition, stressful?
I should look that up. It probably is. Something about our mammalian selves that relies on routine and order crumbles under change. A chemical reaction that goes off within our bodies. But not a linear, easy-to-understand, cause and effect. No, it is more a collage of tangled emotions and thoughts. So complicated in and of itself because you don’t know if the thought triggered the emotion or the emotion the thought. So you go a little numb because it is impossible to feel all the changes at once. Christmas, New Year’s, what Christmas?
This is new.
CELEBRATING EACH DAY
I don’t need a reason to celebrate.
I enjoy every day more than yesterday.
I love my life and myself.
If I could have just one wish come true,
I would go back to the day before I came
to jail when my boys and I were
in the bathtub singing “On top
of spaghetti…all covered with cheese,”
then baby Leroy always says, “Achoo!”
(that was his part) He was only one and a half then.
He’s a big boy now. Only three and a half
and he thinks he’s grown.