My broken snow globe holidays

In a matter of days they will arrive. You know, the cards with families full of mirthful expressions, the letters telling of orgasmic feats, exotic vacations, university degrees and oh-so-amazingly successful children.

Then there others that would like to send a card but can’t. They just buried a loved one and are clawing their way through grief, one torturous moment at a time. There’s the once happy family that was splintered when their rebellious child left everyone in the lurch with their choices or the husband who left for another woman. Or the one dealing with debilitating health issues. Then, there is the jobless family who could not fathom the frivolity of a holiday card, as they look at their dwindled bank account in worry.

Oh, it’s not like each of these couldn’t somehow muster a few “things I’m thankful for” to rattle off when asked. Rather, the crushing weight of current circumstances has shattered the idyllic holiday snow globe scene. Now instead of tiny, white swirling flakes floating gently onto an inviting looking home, shards of hopeful expectations or family traditions lay broken, unable to be recaptured.

It’s that time of year, where all the things we might know about friends and family (but can blissfully ignore every other month), are lovingly and without malice, foisted right in our faces. These messages arrive quite innocently. But for those of us with a broken globe, the emotions they evoke are quite the opposite of the intent. It isn’t the sender’s fault.

This isn’t self-pity or even envy. This isn’t a sad miserable soul trying to garner attention and a tiny violin serenade. This is me admitting my globe broke and it hurts beyond description.

Let me hold onto the base of my broken snow globe and weep. Allow me to look longingly at the scene that will never be again. Help me by gently picking up the slivers of glass alongside me. And please, don’t offer to buy another one. That scene cannot be recreated. Just let the hollowness be.

Maybe this is you. Maybe this is someone you know. What CAN be done?

Invite them for a coffee. Wrap them in a warm hug. Pray for them. Drop a non-glitzy card in the mail just to say, “I’m thinking of you.” Be mindful of your message when you send out your card or letter. Send that someone a gift card for a favorite restaurant. Most of all, be sensitive to the fact that not all of us will have a happy holidays this year (even if we might really like to) and one year, it may be your broken globe holidays.

broken-globe

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In the Ashes

I’m sitting in the ashes.

The grey char has dirtied my clothing and skin but I don’t care. I am content to be here. It’s my season.

We often fear the ashes. They feel unclean and our society balks against dirtiness. They leave indelible stains and we are all about removing those. Their particles permeate the air and our lungs must have only pure oxygen.

Now I sit, sometimes in silence, but only silence on the outside. Inside, there are scenes playing in rapid fire succession. Poignant moments. Warmth of embraces. Snippets of conversations. Compliments. Rebukes. Twinkling eyes. Silly jokes. Dinners, coffees, donuts. Hundreds of thousands of moments. Sweet but aching all at once.

Sometimes the ash is mingled with tears- copious amounts of them; tears of anger mixed with expletives like f**k cancer and “why don’t I have parents” questions. Then drops of anguish or fear come splashing out, fear of my own mortality (will I get cancer too?) and anguish- the crushing kind where your chest feels heavy from a broken heart.

I get up and walk away from the ashes because I have to. Life goes on around me- homework, work, bills, dinners, grocery shopping. Then I go back, not because I have to, but because I want to. It’s my season and it will soon be a distant memory, not forgotten, just moved past.

I am not afraid here. These ashes are a reminder- a sobering one- that life is like a mist but there is an eternity that awaits us; that a life lost is not a life forgotten. As the soot cannot be easily removed from anything it touches, so grief stains our entire being in a somber grey. But I will rise from the ashes a better person.