Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Lights

Thanksgiving dinner is already a blur as I feel myself being catapulted into the holiday season. As if a beacon were lit for all to see, our neighbors emerged en masse from their dens to festoon their houses in twinkle lights, wreaths, Santa and reindeer displays and one skiing polar bear (who startled me the first morning of his appearance when, in the predawn darkness while I was walking Moose, he seemingly rose up on hind legs to stalk me.) The husband, for whom Dickens surely would have fashioned Scrooge if he was writing today, has always resisted excessive holiday decorations. And by excessive, I mean anything beyond one wreath and one tree. So I was a tad surprised when we headed out one night to view the light displays and Cowgirl declared she wanted some lights for our house. Without any of the usual irony in his voice, the husband immediately suggested we go out the next day to buy some lights.

And so here we are with the puniest of light displays in the neighborhood but hey, its a start. (Meanwhile, our neighbor across the street spent the entire week rigging his Cirque du Soleil display, the entire block dimming when he finally flipped the switch on.) I took the dog out last night for a tour and even though a cold wind blew, I was warmed by the excitement of our neighbors and their clear joy in celebrating the season. I got thinking about the magic of this time of year, the memories of holidays as a child when anticipation blended with a confidence and a certainty that Santa would pull through for me and find that treasured Fun Flower making set (complete with plug in heater, bottled goo, molds and tongs to lift hot pans of melting plastic bits up to be cooled; yes I was 5 - Cowgirl's age - when Santa brought me this) or other delights of a child's mind.

But today, I am caught in a more melancholy mood. Ghosts of Christmases past seem to be swirling around me. This time of year has always been a soup pot full of conflicting emotions. There is a hope the holidays hold out to us all along with a tinge of the bittersweet as toys break or fail to live up to our expectations and post holiday season brings about business as usual. I am also remembering how the holidays seem to offer us a sense that magic can occur, that change is possible, our lives transformed by Belief and New Beginnings. In high school my bravest moment occurred just before a holiday break.

To put this all in context - I was a geek in high school. I started out overweight and then struggled with an eating disorder. I had good friends, but I always felt very alone. I survived on a series of crushes and hoped that one day, someone would notice me. There was one boy who I had know for years who circled in and out of my crush rotation. We had been friendly, but that was it. This one year, I was overcome by the impeding loss of this object of my affection that school vacation would bring. Emboldened by the knowledge it would be weeks before he saw me again, I muttered some kind of invitation to call me over the break while we were at our lockers. Whatever I said was probably much vaguer than that, and I must have bolted away like a rabbit after uttering my cryptic comment. And yet ... I still waited that entire break hoping for the phone to ring, believing my message was understood and that my secret Santa would bring me my ultimate gift.

Needless to say, my high school days were dateless. This incident is book-ended in my memory with probably my most shameful moment when a boy did call to ask me out and in my panic and horror I created the most ridiculous lie about a boyfriend in Connecticut (?!) I'm not sure where I am going here. I guess I have been thinking about how the holidays invite us to dream big and the challenge is to continue to believe long after the tinsel and twinkle lights come down. We allow our possibilities to be a little wilder, more far reaching - that is the excitement and the daring this seasons seems to offer. But to marry Believing with action, that seems to be a more fruitful way of approaching things. Toys will break, dreams will look flatter in real life, but how to continue to breathe life into them long after the fruitcake has been packed away, well that is what I am pondering these days.

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