Tuesday, December 25, 2012

More hopeful than merry

 All photos by Jenny.
 It's the first day of Christmas and here in the afternoon all but me have collapsed for naps, worn out from sugar, fun, and excitement both welcome and planned as well as the unplanned and unwelcome kind that have found their way to us and our extended family this year.  Our holiday started a couple days ago with my in-laws' family gift exchange and continued with a Christmas Eve service last night and of course stockings and our gifts to each other (and from St. Nick) this morning.
The holiday season is full of ferry boat rides for our little foursome, as we go back and forth between our urban home and city life and our times with Andrew's family over on the peninsula. Last week my beloved Jenny tagged along with us to capture our happy commute in this grey season. The Washington State Ferries have long been a big part of Andrew's family's life, as they are for just about anyone who lives out on the Olympic peninsula or one of the islands in the Puget Sound. Now our girls also will have layered memory upon memory of riding them to Grandpa's house or to stay the weekend with Grandma and Bobo.

In part because of my work at the hospital (Andrew is working night shift tonight, and I'm on overnight tomorrow) and in part because of that unwelcome excitement I mentioned above I find myself more tuned in to the melancholy parts of the holiday this year than I have been in the recent past.  I know that for many it is a time of release - the waiting of Advent is over, the waiting for presents is over, the pressure of the holiday hustle and bustle is over. The lucky ones among us can sleep in or be woken early by happy children, hug family members, use the extra time of a day off to focus on experiencing and expressing love for those close and far. I am most definitely a lucky one.

But I know that there are those who don't get to feel this way or have these experiences. I am starkly aware that life, in all it's unpredictability and constant fragility, does not stop for Christmas.  People will die today, loves will break, hearts and bodies will be wounded - just like yesterday and just like tomorrow. In a way that is appropriate - after all in the faith tradition that claims Christmas as a holy day it is the arrival of an ordinary and extraordinary human life that we stop all of our regular routines to celebrate. That baby's life wasn't easy, and it didn't end in peace or without heartbreak. It helps me, this Christmas, to remember that sometimes it's how we suffer with those who cannot feel happy on special days, how we reach out to other human beings who don't feel lucky any day, that brings us the closest to the Christ Child and the miracle of his birth.

So from us to you, Merry Christmas. And if today is not a merry one for you please accept instead a wish that you may find rest, peace, and hope this year. From here on out may your year, like the season, only get lighter.


  1. This is a lovely post. Thank you for, as always, giving me something to think on.