Visions of sugar plumbs and rain deer have never danced in my head. As a little girl, Christmas came in the middle of the Yuma, Arizona desert with my family of five in an old one room Army trailer smaller than a normal bedroom. At night, winter winds would whip so hard across the desert I feared our tiny sand-ravaged trailer would blow over just as the outhouse often did.
One night, at age five, I awakened to the wind scratching loudly on the side of the trailer. In the corner, a dimly lit silhouette projected a shadow against the wall of my Mom hunched over. She was quietly cutting up her deeply prized, brown velvet Indian Kachina Squaw skirt. I could have sworn I saw her crying. The next time I saw that fabric it had been lovingly hand sewn into tiny new doll outfits that became my sisters and my only Christmas present.
As I grew older, I spent Holidays south of the Border with many different Hispanic families. My family brought gifts and clothes collected through out the year from our neighbors, and they created delicacies that resulted in my ever-present passion for Mexican food. I didn’t speak their language, nor did they speak mine. Somehow through frantic pantomime, and some unspoken affinity, we understood each other. I sat on their dirt floors to eat and watched the joy dance in their children’s big brown eyes as they opened presents. It was then that I became ashamed of the privileges and opportunities I had even as a poor white person. I knew I enjoyed things that they didn’t and probably would never enjoy. Yet, with all our external differences, we understood we were very much the same inside. As I grew older, Christmas became that dreaded Holiday when Mom would get drunk and fight with Dad. Even in the worst of times, during the Holidays we all secretly, silently believed in magic, and for a short time, magic came. It still comes during the Holidays.
Holiday magic comes in odd ways. It suddenly appears in our desire to give, and our willingness to receive. It infiltrates our music. This music somehow permeates and opens our hearts. There have been many late Christmas nights, when the scent of evergreen fills my living room and the lights on the tree reflect multi-colored prisms against the wall. Streisand’s voice crawls in next to my heart softly singing “Oh Holy Night.” or “Ave Maria.” It is in that perfect moment, no matter what else may be going on that I do finally feel the magic of the Holidays and the willingness to begin again.
I also see the magic in the faces of people walking in malls, those who might never have otherwise glanced up to smile. It shows up in the hours that volunteers make themselves available to help those less fortunate. It shows up in donation canisters, in visits to hospitals and time with those in homes for the elderly. It shows up in the willingness to reach out beyond ourselves and be connected to something not material. It appears in our willingness to allow children to believe in something they can’t see. It ignites in us as hope, love and charity.
You see, the holidays are not yet about what is, they are more about what can be. They make a cameo appearance that peaks in once a year to remind us that strangers can smile at each other and mean it. It’s a reminder that families, both biological and spiritual, are incredibly important and not defined by color, race, sexual preference, religion or gender. It’s a time to focus on the children, inside of us and out. It’s a time when spiritual truths get illumined and we recommit to doing it better, with more aliveness, authenticity and love. It’s a time when we begin to see the priorities again and put things back into perspective. It’s a time for gathering good thoughts, loving messages and pounds that get harder to loose. It’s a time to reach out and touch those we love who live too far away the rest of the year. It’s a time to put your hand against their cheek or on their shoulder and remind them, even when you’re not around, you are.
Most importantly, it’s a time when we begin to believe in us again. I let go of the disappointments, take a deep breath and muster up every ounce of hope I can find in the recesses of my soul. From the chaos of the Holidays, I hear the words of Teilhard De Chardin….
|“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God/ess the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.”
On that day for the first time in the history of the world, we will have created Peace on Earth and made manifest the magic of the Holidays.
As a child, I wondered, Could we hold the thought longer, could we believe harder, could we maybe make the magic happen for good if we also had Christmas in March, August or July? Would the smiles last longer and the hearts be more open? I thought so then. Now, I don’t think so. I think if the magic is going to stay, we have to make it Christmas every morning. Without a single word to anyone, we could play Holiday Carols in June and July and tell people we love them for no apparent reason. We could smile without thinking even in April. We could do random acts of kindness without a forethought anytime. We could believe in each other and act as if we are all just one happy family of human beings. Together we could create the magic, couldn’t we? Have a wondrous Holiday know that you are each deeply, deeply loved.
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013