Dec 15 2014

Holiday Bleatings

Published by at 1:12 pm under Personal,Philosophy

There’s a desperation in the air before the inevitable collapse that is Christmas. A desperate, longing energy.

It feels like every year, I go through this. Maybe everyone does. Around Thanksgiving, a button clicks in my head and I find myself flitting haphazardly through the mess of my life like a hummingbird. Useless energy – unfocused but sharp. It’s not a negative thing, not in and of itself. Just an agitation, just a leg bumping up and down on the floor constantly, just a girl who can’t sleep through the night but doesn’t really dream, either.

For years, I blamed that energy on a number of things: Seasonal Affective Disorder, being away from home, growing older, the fact that my father died so soon after Christmas, the rampant commercialism that is warm and comforting but also empty – like so much of the food I partake of. The agitation I feel, the restless energy: it is about all of those things and none of those things all at once. It is about surviving another Winter. It is about a sun that is fading from my life.  It is about my own mortality. It is about the rituals that are comforting but suffocating. It is about missing the people I love, and reaching out with gifts and notes and jokes to hold on to that love, to try to prove to myself that it doesn’t fade like the sun.

This weekend, we went to finish our shopping and the parking lot was like a hive of activity, constantly streaming traffic. I told Michael I love holiday shopping because we all become little scurrying animals, squirrels foraging for acorns, chickens scratching the ground for worms. We stood in line to check out for maybe fifteen minutes at one store and the woman behind us spent most of that time audibly sighing. Meanwhile, I talked about the report on CIA torture. It is interesting how willing we are to strip humanity from others, from ourselves.

We came home and we each had a low carb cider and I wrapped the remaining presents and sealed some packages and fidgeted constantly. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t watch Poirot. I tried to do yoga and failed. So I went for a walk. There are Christmas lights and inflatables and garlands everywhere in our neighborhood. Constantly whirring, blinking, blinding madness. I picked up the pace. I walked past a couple arguing as they left the car “You can say whatever you want.” “Oh, thank you!”. I walked past a kid running to his mother’s car to help her bring in dinner. I eventually walked past the bright hum of lights at the community pool and then stepped onto the bridge to the lake path. And all of a sudden, the only noise was my footsteps and the only light was the dim moonlight that reflected through the thick clouds. I slowed down. I turned to the lake, and realized there were geese silhouetted there. Rolling gently, silently with the movement of the water. I stopped and watched them. Only for a few minutes, but that was all it took. I headed back towards home.

Over this year, throughout my study of “pagan” religious practices (what little records we have) and my daily yoga practice, I have found myself coming back again and again to my own mortality. I know, what a drag. But my research and yoga have given me a space to allow that focus to take over, to accept it’s definitive absolute-ness, to train myself to face it but allow it to pass. But what is the holiday season but a raging against all of our own eventual mortality? We will not go gentle into that long Winter. We will rage and party and drink and kill and eat and fuck until the sun comes up again. The desperate energy is the energy we keep inside most of the year, while we focus on the practicalities of life, on preparing for the future. All of a sudden, it has the chance to come out and it comes out in excesses everywhere. It is both beautiful and terrifying… and I find myself both heartened and disgusted by various aspects of humanity; by various aspects of my own humanity.

But I will be a merry participant: I will make low carb cookies and candies and I will pig out. I will buy the necessary gifts to participate in ritual offerings to our loved ones. I will decorate an evergreen with twinkling lights to remind myself that the sun will rise again. I will buy, buy, buy. I will give, give, give. I will get drunk on 15 year Scotch and dry Gin. I will wrap everything in either bacon or tinsel. I will put up my stocking by the fireplace. I will ring all the damn bells I can find, and sing Christmas carols loudly, and reminisce about all the Christmases I had before, with people who I am far from (and people I may never see again). I will start a fire and I will lay in front of it with a snuggly cat. I will curl ribbons and light candles. I will have the merriest fucking holiday season ever.

And when I need to, I will go for a walk or I will meditate and I will know that all of the raucous joy is for naught, except for its own joyful mess and I am okay with that. I am happy with that.

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