Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chandeliers of Hope

When I was in the third grade we went out to a local tree farm to cut down our Christmas tree. It was cold and dark and it seems like it was snowing, but I'm not sure about that now. Memories start melding into one another when you hit a certain age.  I have to ask someone else who was there if they remember it the same way I do. We went out to the middle of the tree farm and my mom saw this little tree, and she said that was the one she wanted. We all said it was too small and went on looking a little longer until we ended up back at that little tree where my mother told us one more time, that's it, that's the one I want. My father said Dear, that tree is too small, but my mom wouldn't budge and so my dad took the ax and he cut it down.

We got home and  put it in the stand and my mom looked at the tree and said it was too small. Then she started crying a little. I was a kid so I thought, why is she crying, it's just a tree. But I'm an adult now and I would venture to guess my mom wasn't crying about that little tree. It's not really my place to tell you all about my mom's life, but suffice it to say, she suffered great loss in her early years and the holidays have a funny way of making every loss and heartache come around and smack you in the face. I wonder if she was feeling it at that moment she looked at that tiny Christmas tree. To her credit, our holidays were filled with tremendous joy and love and fun and laughter and I've been chasing that kind of Christmas around for years now. I get glimpses of it with my own kids, but the big high, the absolute care free days of those childhood Christmas times are a little out of reach.

People come here to laugh (I think) and I'm sorry for having disappointed you. I shouldn't be writing right now. I should come back when I feel sunny and happy, which could possibly be tomorrow, but who knows, probably not.  I told a dear friend  that I  get anxious this time of year, that sometimes I just want to skip over it, and she said, hey me too, do you like spring, let's just pretend it's spring, and so I did for a little while. But you can only do that for so long. Trees come up and lights go on and holiday songs are playing everywhere and you would have to be a complete idiot to not notice that, hey, it's the happiest time of the year! So be happy!

I went for a long bike ride today. Halfway through I started bawling my eyes out. I was riding down Lakeshore Drive crying and wiping my snot on my sleeve, but I kept on riding. It's hard to ride a bike and cry at the same time. It's impressive really. And funny and stupid, too. I started doing that thing you do when you're sad and life's gotten the best of you. I thought of the starving people in Africa and of the people who had no one to go home to and no one to eat dinner with, but that didn't cheer me up all, imagine that.Why do we think other people's misery will make us feel better about our own? It's warped, isn't it? But what I thought about mostly, what brought about the tidal wave of tears, was that someone close to me is going through tremendous heartache and I can't do a thing to ease that person's suffering and I started to cry so hard I couldn't see anymore.

It's Christmas and you came here to get some holiday laughs but I'm not giving you any. I can give you hope though. Well, I can't, but God can and I'm kind of grateful Christmas is rolling around right now because as my sister commented to me, if there's one time of year you believe something good will happen, this is it. Something good will happen and there will be light. I know it. Everyday from now until Christmas morning a little miracle will happen that will give me hope that everything will be okay. Maggie will smile at Santa or she'll dance around the Christmas tree downtown and sing. Jane will help me make Christmas cookies and Kate will make sparkly paper snowflakes, huge ones that look perfect. Anthony  will string the lights around the tree in clumps and we'll laugh at his craziness and Greg will come through the door and ask if anyone wants to go for a walk to see the lights and Leo will charge at him and probably knock over the tree in the process. My sister will send me a perfectly worded email or text me the sweetest little picture of her Advent Wreath and I'll see it there, I'll see hope and happiness and peace and I'll be thankful for all the people who made me believe it, for the people in my life who gave me a Christmas miracle when I needed it most.

Up above, candles on air flicker
Oh, they flicker and they float
And I'm up here holdin' on
To all those chandeliers of hope - Coldplay


Julie said...

I love you and your blog even when you're not funny! Also I just looked out my bedroom window and there is a cardinal in the tree looking at me, it's a female one, not a pretty bright red one, she's almost blending in, but she's like a little ray of hope. At PE yesterday some of us were talking about how Christmas time is sort of like Disney in that the pressure to make it magical sometimes takes all the beauty out of it. Also my father always calls my mother dear (pronounced DEA) or Meme, and I had a very happy childhood, yet my father always had a headache the night we put up our Christmas tree and I'm pretty sure someone always ended up crying. That's the way it is for every family I think.

deborah said...

I am crying and in awe that you can write so
eloquently and capture the magic and wonder
of not only Christmas, but everyday life.
I went on the other night and ordered
several Christmas books as none of the ones
I have seem to have just the right words.
This short essay does exactly that.
Faith Hope and Love always prevail.

Tiffany said...

Beautiful post, thank you for opening your heart to us, your crazy blog readers. I love Christmas but quickly get myself bogged down in my big lists of all that I have to do and see and places I need to go so that I fully experience every minute..I make myself crazy. Last year was one of my best Christmases and I spent it sitting in my recliner. I didn't make any Christmas cookies, didn't go out much, didn't wear cute Christmas shirts (but I did wear Christmas socks every day), but yet, I had the gift of time with my family and that made it Christmas for me and for them (I hope!). Love you!

ann marie said...

Julie, I can hear your dad saying it like that :) And yes, that's true about the Disney comparison. Thank you, my sister :)Tiffany, are you decorating your car this year?! The sight of your car in Target parking lot all decked out is seared into my brain :)

DebiH. said...

So true. We all have many memories and experiences attached to the Christmas season and it is emotionally draining sometimes. Then there is the pressure to make it all magical for our children. And the sadness for those who are suffering.

This year we went to the Christmas tree farm while 5 of us were barely recovered from the flu because it was the only time we could all go as a family. I felt awful and could hardly walk around. By the time we got home and put the tree up, I was exhausted and grumpy. : ) The odds are pretty high that my kids will all have memories of momma being a grump. I can just hope that they will be able to laugh about it.

Terri said...

I'm crying and I can't see. What a great, great, GREAT post!
I love you!

A very dear friend of mine once sent this to me:


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

ann marie said...

Terri,I love that poem. I sent part of it to my brother at a time when he was going through a brutally painful time. The first verse was kept on my computer up until a few months ago when it just somehow went missing. Thank you for posting this and reminding about how lovely a poem it it!

deborah said...

The lilac bush has a bird's nest in it.

Steph C. said...

Absolutely beautiful. Perfect. This blog post is perfection. I love you!