This time of year, the pace of life seems to increase as the light decreases. By winter solstice, the longest night of the year, which is this Friday, the magic and the reality of the season will be in full force. Then the light will increase again by two minutes or so a day until June when the longest day will bring its own magic.
In Wisconsin, these late fall days vacillate between crisp with brilliant blue skies and more dower, damp days filled with shades of gray that inevitably lead to introspection. Today is one of those gray days. Yesterday was filled with sun and relatively warm temperatures at 37 degrees. Yesterday my son and I finished his annual Christmas letter—a tradition I started before he was born and have continued every year since. This was the first year he, at 19, wanted to add more than a few bullet points. I love doing the letter, even when our year in review has been filled with loss. This year it was simply filled with joy, celebration, and a boat (a really big cruise-ship-like boat) load of work.
The letter was fun to create.
Filling in the addresses for the cards, less so. Hence the introspection.
I filled in 72 addresses today, before I sat down to write this. There are still a few more to do, but those require handwritten letters to be sent overseas. I’ll do those tomorrow. They won’t arrive for Christmas, but they will be welcome as we celebrate Hogmanay—The New Year. I am grateful for each and every card I am able to send. What is hard is viewing all the addresses of the friends, family and loved ones who can no longer receive Christmas cards. I know I can reach them far more quickly—and without a stamp—simply by thinking of them, sending my love and sharing my innermost thoughts. I can do that, but it still makes me more melancholy, than I should be at this time when there are so many Blessings all around. It’s not just the gray of the day, but the gray of spirit that settles for a while over the shoulders, like a cashmere shawl, light, soft, comforting even, when the chill sets in. I never keep it on for long. Just long enough for the quiet, gentle, acceptance that comes after the initial constriction of my heart seeing the line crossed through yet another name.
That’s okay. More than okay. That feeling tells me how lucky I am to have people who matter to me in my life now, and people who have mattered who will live inside me until the day I become another address with a line through it.
As Christmas draws closer, I will keep all those who have gone before in my mind and in my heart. We will raise a glass to them at dinner, like we do at every Thanksgiving and every Halloween. And with every ornament that we unwrap to put on the tree from grandparents, parents, and friends, we will smile and be thankful for all they have done to shape who we are.
This Christmas is filled with new additions to our family, new Blessings that close out this year and lead us into the next with joy and much love.
Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate. Happy Yule to everyone. May this season fill your hearts with love. May you experience the joy of memory and none of its sadness. May your new year be filled with health, happiness and every Blessing.