As I sit here, I look to my left and see my wife napping on our futon with our cat snuggled up in a sweater under the blanket. I look to my right and see a teeny tiny Christmas tree, multi-colored Christmas lights and snow falling outside. This is a holy moment for me.
God is in this.
Two years ago I was miserable. I hated everyone. I hated God. Mostly I hated myself. I didn’t want to live most days. I felt God hated me and then abandoned me. I couldn’t imagine a future, let alone one like this.
I start classes in less than one month. I’m getting my bachelor’s so I can move on and get my master’s. I’m going for my MDIV if you didn’t already know. Seminary. The girl that shouted in Winnemac Park at 11pm most Monday nights “Fuck you God! Where are you???” as loud as she could, is going to go to seminary.
I have a history of hating Christmas. Every year I say I’m going to try to like it, but I fail miserably. There have been times that I’ve faked it really well. See, I’m a people pleaser, and people don’t appreciate a Debbie Downer/Scrooge/Jerk-Face. There have also been times that I let it all out there, the ugliness of how I felt.
In October I started feeling anxiety about the upcoming holiday season and how terrible it will be. I decided that instead of “trying to like it this year”, I was going to “participate” in it this year. No expectations or feelings were needed to be involved, just action. Thanksgiving went off without a hitch. We were at my sister’s who as always had an amazing spread with bunches of people to chat with, kids to play with, and rooms to hide away from all the chaos for a couple of minutes. Her home always feels like my home. Unlike the previous year, Kelly and I got to spend it together. It was beautiful. It helped remind me to be thankful as cheesy as it sounds, it is true. I’m thankful for her, for my family, for second chances, for this recliner that I’m sitting in, for our kitten, for our new bed, for the dim Christmas lighting with a backdrop of snow.
I am thankful.
After zero bad experiences on Thanksgiving, I tentatively waded into Christmas. Thursday, I pulled out our tiny Christmas tree and picked up some lights at Walgreens. While Kelly was at work, I set it up. It started as a gift for her, because I know she likes it and she doesn’t like where we live, I thought it would be nice. But, honestly, I think I kind of liked it more. It made me take ownership of the holiday. I feel warm and peaceful with the lights on even though the radiator is still broken and it’s cold inside (hence the sweater for the cat).
I am having a great holiday season. I feel loved. I feel safe. I’m excited about the gifts we’re getting people. I’m excited that we get to write both names on the cards together. I’m excited that this is a season about expectancy, not about anxiety. I’m expecting cuddling. I’m expecting hot chocolate. I’m expecting spiked eggnog. I’m expecting love to be given freely and freely received.
This is the beginning. The beginning of life for me. This Advent has rebirthed me. This moment though, I want to hold it in my heart. The snow, the light snoring, the lights, the peace, the love, the acceptance, the presence of God. It is here. It is palpable. Do you feel it?