I woke Christmas morning to quiet. Thoughts filled my head. Words filled my heart. Leaning over the bedside, I pulled the laptop from it’s place on my nightstand shelf.
Propping up on pillows, I opened it and began composing. The bedroom door cracked, my husband doing his signature peek to see if I was awake from my sleep.
Do you think you will be long? Everyone is waiting for you in the living room.
Of course they were! In a classic move of having words come to me at the worst time, I closed the laptop, replaced it on the nightstand shelf, and eased my way out of bed.
Wrapping in a cozy robe, I exited to the living room, where a combination of excited and sleepy faces awaited my arrival.
The month of December has been full of celebration. From the first weekend when our eldest and her husband came to celebrate with us, to the weekend before Christmas when my son and his wife visited, we have eaten no fewer than three Christmas breakfasts and as many dinners.
Programs, concerts, gift exchanges, parties, and the wedding of a friend’s son filled the days leading up to the big one. Shopping, wrapping, tending to individuals occupied my time. Christmas cards still being worked on were intentionally set aside until the days after Christmas.
This brought me to Christmas morning and all of the words in my head and people around the tree. Two adult children and the four still at home greeted me with various levels of excitement and exhaustion written on their faces.
I knew they had been up together late into the night playing games in one younger sibling’s room, sleeping over together in another. The one sharing his room slept downstairs by the light of the Christmas tree, keeping his own tradition.
All of this worked itself out without my planning or control over bedding and beds and sleeping arrangements.
I’ll take care of it, Mama. Don’t worry, adult daughter said. And she did. I went to bed, slept soundly, and woke thinking I could write while everyone was still sleeping when they were all quietly waiting for me in the living room.
This is how I know change has come.
We weren’t awake late into the night trying to settle small children into their beds and startled awake early in the morning to excited knocking on our door. The excitement, while present, was more contained and less explosive.
These word choices reveal work that has been taking place in my heart and the hearts of those in my home. Learning to be more present. Helping to contain and handle strong feelings. Revisiting and repairing places of rupture with adult children. Revisiting and repairing places of rupture in my own heart.
I woke to words from my story, the story of a younger self, the last Christmas spent with my family before marriage. It was the self of 20, the age of my youngest adult. The words in my head were spoken by a sibling, 13, the age of one of my own.
I have a clear visual of these ages and more context than ever, which is why I think the words came so loudly and clearly. It is why they came with kindness for those present in the scene.
I am still coming close to late-teenage me. From ages 16 to 20 is a painful blur in my story, beginning with a move following the Christmas of ’87 and punctuated with the words,
We’re not having Christmas this year. We’re having a wedding, Younger Sibling, 13, Christmas ’91.
I was married on January 4, 1992.
Christmas and the season surrounding it holds much for me. There is loss and grief and struggle and joy. There are heavy places in my story with Christmas, places even nostalgia can’t reach.
I didn’t write on Christmas Day. I spent time with the family, soaked in the tub, and took a nap. I spent moments on an unexpected phone call with a friend. I hugged adults goodbye and found presents that had not been wrapped in the excitement and passed them out and played a board game.
I watched Elf and went for a walk after dark to look at the neighborhood lights. I fed my parents’s cats. I brewed a cup of Sleepytime tea with my husband, choosing to end the night with tea and reading instead of wine and more eating.
It was a kind choice. As is this early morning writing time two days later. Little by little, step by step, things are changing, have changed. (Yes, do click on that link.)
It is a good gift.
Merry Christmastide, Friends!