I have been trying very hard these last days, as we draw ever closer to Christmas, to focus on what I have. I can feel myself tempted to lean into what I do not have, what’s missing, what I think I need…It’s a feeling I fight every year. This tendency to feel like it’s not enough – that I haven’t done enough, that I haven’t done well enough, or cooked enough or bought enough… I always have to remember to not measure the holiday in random stuff.
This year the feeling is one I can’t shake, probably because I haven’t done as much as I usually do, and definitely because I miss my mother – her absence is keen for me right now. Sometimes it’s a dull ache, like a broken bone slowly healing, and sometimes it’s like a sharp rending – like this afternoon, when I was wrapping a few gifts (finally) and I pulled out a box from last year (as a knitter I tend to be a rather weird box hoarder) and a tag tumbled out “For Mum, much love, Steph.” In that moment, my feeling was not just that I didn’t have enough, but that I had nothing. That nothing was right, that nothing ever would be.
This is not even remotely accurate. Not even close. I have so much, and yesterday and today as we celebrated the solstice, I tried hard to remember the light is coming back, and every day there will be a little more, and things will be a little better, and other than the rather gutting and horrific death of my mother, things are actually pretty firmly good. (It does not help, by the way, that one of the things I have is a really bad cold, but I’m trying to look past it.) I have a lot. I have most of the gifts bought or made (one big knitting sprint underway but trying to believe it can work.)
I have a loving family-in-law that has taken the time to think of my mother, and include her memory in their celebrations, though it makes us all cry, it’s a comfort to know they all miss her.
I have so many friends, who all turned up to decorate gingerbread and fill my house to the brim in a way that left no room for anything but happiness and love and some gingerbread seahorses that are pretty fabulous.
I have the cookies baked. Not as many as in past years, but that doesn’t matter. I have just enough of the few favourites that matter to us.
I have a husband who was smart enough to know that I would struggle with all of this, and planned a little ski trip away with Katie, Carlos, Lou and Frankie, and we skied and ate and made tire sur la neige and (I totally got this cold from Frank) and Joe was right. It got me though the worst of it. New traditions taking the place of old ones.
I have beautiful children and a wonderful grandson and I know for a fact that none of them are going to be cold or hungry or lonely or cast out on this holiday, as the snow flies and it gets colder and colder. It’s why this is always the time of year that I give what I can to charities – This year I gave a little extra to the Bike Rally, because many of their clients won’t have what I do this winter, and because I have to be my mum, and it’s what she would have done.
I have a big hole where my mum should be, sure – and I’m taking from the emails and notes I have from all of you, that I won’t even have that forever, and I can see how it’s true. This is a hard spot, but I have so very, very much to try and fill it with.
Happy Solstice. I know I’m late, but it’s what I have.