There’s been a stirring in my soul: words begging to come out, a picture urging me to free it onto the canvas.
I told myself I’d make the time. I told myself I’d schedule a day to sit and allow a space for the words to come, for the story to be told.
Today is that day. I made the coffee, I sat at the table, I opened the computer. I did so while the cookies baked and the evergreen candle burned. I did so by the light of the soft golden Christmas tree glow and to the sound of the sleeping pug below it.
What I didn’t realize, what I didn’t see before this moment, is that the story asking to be told is also grief inviting me to sit. To remember what was and allow the ache of its absence to pull on my heart so strongly that words can’t bear their weight.
I want to tell the story of Christmases past, of the beauty in the magic of the season, the moments between my family, and the eager anticipation bundled in each moment. But to tell the story, to write the verbs in their past tense, has been more painful than I expected.
It’s our second Christmas married and my first Christmas on another continent, in another climate, around a different culture. Up until this attempt to remember, I’ve straddled both worlds – I’ve put up the tree and lit my candle. I’ve read my Advent book and I’ve made hot chocolate. I tried my hand at making a parol, gone swimming, and saved Christmas shopping for the day before Christmas hoping that enough people will have left the city that I can maneuver through the mall (here’s hoping).
It wasn’t just the words asking me to put them down in writing, it was the ache begging to be acknowledged. And while I’d rather Christmas be filled with magic and lights and happy things (which, even still it contains those things), I know it didn’t start that way. Because of that, I can let my longing join with the longings of the multitudes through the centuries. I can remember that the celebration of Christ’s birth begins with a family who were far from their home and comfort. After all, the promise of this event first came on the heels of death and then again to a man who also followed God far from his homeland.
While I may not capture the moments of Christmases past in words this year, I’ll allow the ache in my soul to come out in tears. I’ll Skype with my family from far away and we’ll join in gratitude for that new tradition. The ache and the gratitude, mixed with the lights and the magic, create new ways of celebrating the old, old Story.