It has finally all caught up with me, I think.
It is Sunday and that is the day I was molested, most usually, when I was a child and the day I always have to wake up and fight my way out of, darkness descended before I open my eyes.
It is twelve days before Christmas and I have not done one thing to get ready. We can joke about it, but it's true and it's sad and I quiver in the enormousness of the job before me and how little I want to do it, how I have had my head hidden under a pillow, floating serenely down that river of denial. Just the thought of going upstairs to find the creche, to cut magnolia branches to cradle it in, makes my heart break. And the creche is the thing I truly love. The ritual that I adore, placing Mary and the baby and Joseph and the angel just so and then, because this is what we do, putting the little Buddha right beside them, smiling as if to say, "I am God, too! Let us be joyful in our Godliness!"
No. I don't want to.
Every year I think it will be better and now I have come to this year when we have a baby, a real live baby! to hold and love and treat as a Buddha, as a Christ Child, the way every baby deserves to be and yet, I think I have shut down completely when it comes to this Christmas stuff.
Listen- if you don't go to the stores, you don't have to hear the music. Santa Claus may be coming to town but if you don't go to town, you don't have to think about it. You can pretend it doesn't matter and has nothing to do with you. You can think about Aaron Neville singing "O Holy Night" or John and Yoko singing "Happy Christmas, War Is Over" or Handel's Messiah and yes, there you go, somewhere in the world someone is listening to those things and yet, to me they are a memory of some other time, they are a reminder of me trying with powerful music magic to transcend this seasonal sorrow and never...quite...making it.
Joni Mitchell singing "It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees, they're putting up reindeer, singing songs of joy and peace and I wish I had a river I could skate away on," is more close to my bone.
It's not a joke. Some of us hate Christmas. Scrooges, Grinches, Evil Tiny-Hearted People who can't feel the joy, can't let in the light, can't believe the story of Only Begotten Son Come To Save Us From Our Sins. No. Some of us can't. Some of us had something broken inside of us and it's not just sorrow when this time of year comes around, it is anger, too, swift and powerful.
I could have chopped off Mr. Moon's head this morning when he finished up all the coffee in the pot with his enormous (but I've just had two cups!) mug and then left the pot empty, me not nearly there with my caffeine needs. I could have chopped off his head!
"Where do you want to go to get a tree?" he asks me. "What do you want for Christmas?"
Nowhere. Nothing. Leave me alone.
Peace, joy. What lies. Baby grows up to be crucified and then arises on the third day. What lies. Santa Claus is coming. What lies.
My mother told me that she waited until after Christmas to leave my drunken father. The one who had a gun. She waited until after Christmas, so as not to spoil it for my brother and me. And then, after that Christmas (which I do not remember and I remember EVERYTHING) we fled. No other word for it. In the middle of the night. I remember the fleeing. That I remember. And I remember darkness, I remember being inconsolable. I remember no lights, no joy, no peace, certainly no peace.
So please- when someone tells you they hate Christmas, don't judge. Please don't judge. If your heart is full of the lights and the songs and the joy and yes, the peace, the yearning for what the Baby promises, don't judge the person whose heart is not. Do you think they want to feel this way?
They do not.
I DO NOT WANT TO FEEL THIS WAY and would change it if I could.
Again. I will try. We will go get a tree. I'll go find the creche.
This afternoon I will hold that baby. I will hold him tightly and I will whisper, Santa Claus is coming. Santa is coming to see you.
I will tell him lies. Because it doesn't need to be ruined for him, too. I will put up a tree with lights to see his eyes take it in. I will try again not to be so sorrowful, so angry.
For the baby. For all my babies.
Even if it kills me. And it feels like it will.
A feeling is just a feeling. Fake it 'til you make it.
More lies. But ones I have to hold on to in order not to drown, rushing down this river. I don't even know how to skate and the rivers do not freeze here anyway.
It's Sunday. Almost Christmas.
I'm going to try.