Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"...a good time, a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time"

If I ever won a lottery – unlikely since I never buy a ticket – my dream would be to do the following every single year:

I’d travel to New England, and find a perfect house to rent every year at Christmastime, one with plenty of bedrooms and a warm, open living space, complete with fireplace and snuggly furniture. A view out toward a winter landscape would complete the setting, and make it all Currier and Ives-ey.

But this isn’t just for me. In the days leading up to Christmas and then beyond into the brand new year, I’d want everyone I loved gathered there, in this perfectly suited place, preferably with snow on the ground around us. As I said, there would be room for everyone, and the house would be beautifully appointed with holiday touches.

If working people didn’t have the vacation time coming to them to enable them to join the group, I’d ask them to take the time unpaid and then give them the money. (I’m a lottery winner, remember?)

Gifts would not only be purchased, they’d be wrapped and ready to place under a picture-perfect tree long before December 24. I’d stock the house with delicious treats and great food. Some of the best moments of our holiday together will be the memorable meals we linger over around the table.

We’d have time to welcome the day with a quiet conversation over a hot mug of coffee in the morning; time to take winter walks through the gorgeous woods, time to play a game, listen to music, read a book, watch a movie together. Time to have all the conversations that get cut off throughout the year with phrases like this: “I have a meeting in one minute – have to jump off and dial a conference line.” Or this: “Call home when you get a chance, honey. Just want to hear from you; see how you’re doing.” Or this: “Can I call you back? This is a really, really bad time…” and then, somehow, you never do.

We’d have time to listen to each other, to ask the questions that need space and thought; that need contemplation and discussion. We’d give each other time to answer.

We’d sometimes do little more than sit around together and do almost nothing except enjoy the downtime together. We’d share great tea or delicious wine together as the dark surrounded us.

Conspicuously absent in my lottery dream are anxiety and sadness. Stress is strictly forbidden as are tension and anger. There is no room for these in my Christmas house and anyone who packs them along with their winter woolens will be discouraged from making the trip.

The thing is, I haven’t won the lottery and I don’t have a rustic but spectacular Christmas house to escape to for the perfect holiday. Instead, I have found myself weighed down by stress, and anxiety and some sadness from time to time. I have felt tension and anger as well, and at this time of year, it just feels harder to bear, doesn’t it?

Maybe it’s a universal truth that has no easy resolution. We get seduced by the pictures we conjure up of a post-lottery life but then we check our ticket and find we’re not a penny richer. And if that’s not enough, we look around on December 22 and find that the cards haven’t been addressed, the cookies haven’t been baked, the last few presents still need to be purchased, and the others need wrapping. But even with all that you know one thing for certain: not one bit of it matters. Not really.

Charles Dickens knew it. (I have a semi-obsession with Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.) Tonight I keep thinking about these words, which Fred expresses to his Uncle Ebenezer: “…I have always thought of Christmas time…as a good time, a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut up hearts freely…and therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

Maybe I just need to open up a shut up heart; maybe that will do me good.


ljr said...

that's how it seems to me

renee said...

Hello ljr - thank you for your comment. I'm not quite sure if you mean, "yes, you need to open up your heart," or "yes, that's how Christmas seems to me as well." or "yes, I'm just as stressed as you seem to be."

At any rate, welcome and thank you for your note. I hope you're enjoying a wonderful holiday.

ljr said...

all of them a little - but mostly the first

renee said...

Thank you for clarifying. The risk, of course, is that opening a shut up heart may mean nothing to people around you.

Or it may be that opening it too many times, then finding it vulnerable and mostly ignored, means its harder to open it again.

Best I can do is say that I'm working on it. Thanks again for your notes.

ljr said...

it seems to me that perhaps you are actually referring to is exposing your emotional expectations or hiding them

it has been my experience that expecting Life to respond in however manner i think it should leads only to disappointment and frustration and confusion

an open heart is without reservation

it seems to me

renee said...

An open heart is without reservation in it's purest form and I suppose something to aspire to thoughout life.

It's the kind of openness we experience from children.

It's not so much a case where I want life to respond the way I expect or want it to. It's become more like a situation where being true to feelings is more important that it's ever been.

Maybe it's turning 50 last year. Feels like there is precious little time to waste on any feelings that are less than genuine. And even less time to waste on anything that robs you of joy.

I don't expect or demand that life bring me joy; but I am becoming more attuned to the idea of making sure I bring joy into my life, more often than not.

ljr said...

agree that life should not be wasted - just turned 65 recently - true feelings are a gift - wish you well

renee said...

Thank you - feels like the right time to wish you all the best of life for 2010 - and thank you again for your comments on the blog.

Hope we stay in touch this year.

ljr said...

am still out here

ljr said...

an it's cold tonight

very cold

renee said...

One word: snuggie.

Do NOT laugh until you've tried it.

ljr said...