This is the year that began with Alan Rickman’s death and has gone down from there. My youngest daughter says the only good thing to come out of 2016 is her baby boy, Creighton. I tend to agree. Just when things are supposed to go all “merry and bright” on us, 2016 has decided to play even dirtier. One friend has had knee-replacement surgery scheduled three times. He’s set to go under the knife this afternoon, but his new knee is held up hundreds of miles away in some snow storm. A much-loved aunt and uncle are in the midst of an life-altering move (boxes stacked everywhere, half the kitchen packed up and the other half given away) and just to add icing on the cake, one of them is unexpectedly admitted to the hospital. One friend broke her hip; another battled rheumatoid arthritis most of the year. Those are just a few examples. Everywhere we turn, things are falling apart (don’t even LOOK at the newspaper!), people we love are falling apart, and not to be outdone, I feel myself falling apart. All this taken into account, it’s not surprising—at least to me—that all I want for Christmas is a bit of stillness.
My stomach is hurting from the food I ate last night
And undigested stress.
Stress stews in its own juices, swishes and swirls in my gut
And reminds me it has no plans to go away.
Eyes are tired yet wide-awake when closed.
Another day has begun.
A day of: straightening, cleaning, planning, moving of things
From here to there and back again.
Taking calls, dodging calls, planning once again.
Watching plans fall apart, reassemble themselves and grow into
Mindless, howling, tooth-gnashing engines with a will of their own,
Multi-armed monsters intent on swirling me around in the dance
Of their deliberately induced insanity.
The people whom I love and who love me back
Ask me what I want this year for Christmas.
Listen closely, loved ones. Listen closely, Santa. Listen closely, God.
What do I want? Simply this—and I ask for it every year—
A day without plans or surprises or carefully manufactured panic or drama,
A day of not being the audience to extended rants or venting,
Or problems I can’t solve,
A day without being asked what material thing I want for Christmas,
A day without the holiday busy-ness
And more about the business of the holy-day.
A day to slow myself, to slow my life,
To remove it from the orchestrated excesses of the day.
A day to sit beside the fire and read,
To sip coffee or tea or cider or cinnamon-spiced hot chocolate
And nibble at the edges of cookies I didn’t make,
A day to look at the tree as it glistens in its simple tinseled glory.
And listen to Christmas music someone else didn’t choose.
A day to be quiet enough to hear the words
My soul has tried so hard to tell me, only to be drowned out
By the clamor of the season.
I finally got my quiet day, or at least a piece of one. And how did I spend it? Making a mincemeat pie and a couple of loaves of cranberry bread. But no one was around to bother me, and I did it to the music I wanted to listen to!