Last November I realized how tired I was of my grievance-filled relationship with Christmas. For many years, feelings of resentment, anger and despair would begin to surface around November 1, right about when Christmas music started playing as I stood in line at Starbucks for my short dark roast.
The approach of Christmas has been a cue for me to find ways of spending as much time as possible alone, away from the frantic activity and busy-ness, a mini-retreat from it all. Which would have been a wonderful experience, except that such a spiritual sounding idea was based on so much ill-will! I realized, with a sense of shock, that I had the option to participate in the season, and to enjoy every moment of it, the same as every other day of the year. This was welcome but it left me with a large gap.
On one side of my mind was the perception that Christmas an awful time, and best gotten through with gritted teeth. On the other was the experience that that peace is always in my mind, and available to me at all times. No matter what’s going on in the “world”.
I saw that the despair over Christmas was in my mind. It was part of the story of the trials of Dawn Green. And had nothing to do with a day called Christmas.
What was the source of all the ruckus then? Feeling curious made me feel lighter.
Things started to shift around in my mind…grievances of Christmases past filed by. Memories from my childhood: Feeling bad, guilty and wrong for all of Christmas day, but not knowing why. Feeling scared of a certain visitors who joined us for dinner. Worst of all was a constant feeling of being outside of things, and alone. Feeling like I was the only one not having fun, and not knowing how to. Wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn’t enjoy Christmas.
I watched from a calm place in my mind as feelings came up, and at times seemed to engulf me. I experienced with acceptance, knowing they were old feelings grounded in old beliefs that I was releasing. I focused on the peace in my mind, as much as I could, and trusted it to embrace and dissipate the whirlwind.
One night I was out walking and found myself moved by the beauty of the lights. I experienced them as an extension of love and generosity from those who decorated their yards and trees. A few days later, at a carol service, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of love as I listened. I heard the devotion, and the love that went into the making of the music.
I started to feel good. I thought about the things I would enjoy doing and people I wanted spend time with over Christmas. I decided to give myself a 10 day vacation and began to feel quietly, peacefully happy in the face of Christmas.
Just as I was starting to think that I was through it all, the ego struck its best, last blows!
Two memories rose up in Technicolor. One centred on the death of my father on a long-ago Christmas day, and the second on a Christmas day of misery as my marriage fell apart for the last time.
The process continued and completed itself. My mind and heart gently settled themselves into a welcome new shape.What I most appreciate about the process is this: That big gunny-sack of victim stories that used to live in the basement is loose and (pretty) empty and all flopped over on itself.
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