by Cynthia Johnson on January 14, 2014

I don’t know about any of you, but this particular holiday season seemed thick and slow.  Not in a negative sense, but literally; relating to the passing of time. Perhaps it is because I don’t get on the crazy train anymore, looking at the date and wondering how I will get everything accomplished.   I learned a long time ago, the only person that notices something wasn’t bought, or baked, is me.  What people do notice is time and how you give it.  Time put into a hand written note, or poem.  Time carved out to spend with someone a little down on their luck, time to look into the face of a child, time to look at each ornament you hang and remember where it came from.

I was in the grocery checkout the week before Christmas, and the cashier made the usual unavailing comment she makes to each customer, “Can you believe Christmas is next week???” as she stressfully shook her head, to which I sincerely replied, “Actually, yes, yes I can. It seems as though it should have passed by now.” She paused for a second, continuing to scan my items, then looked me square in the eye and said, “You are the only person that has said that.”  There was an intense look on her face, and I wasn’t sure if it was anger or just plain bewilderment.  Without pause, I replied “Well, it could be we lost a family member a few weeks ago.  I suppose I am stuck in that loss.”  She said nothing.  She scanned and stared, and upon receiving my signature, she smiled and wished me a Merry Christmas, as I did her.

It got me thinking about how uncomfortable people become with real problems, or should I say the “real” situations that occur for which we have no control. Did I unexpectedly remind her of a loss?  Or did I simply throw an unanticipated curve at her unbendable mind script?

How we fuss within the commonalities of whatever the current societal stress is.  Whether it’s the holiday season with it’s over scheduling and over spending, or the economy, regardless of whether you are struggling financially or coming around to a realization that like so many Americans, you already had more than enough, and even with less, it is still plenty.

When it comes to our individual and unavoidable losses however, we pack them deep and tight, like the stuffing in the Thanksgiving Day turkey.

Perhaps in a kind of Jungian attempt, we project our feelings of loss onto society as a whole, concurrently sucking up the feeling of gain that so easily surrounds not only the holiday table, but the excessive activity we are still recuperating from mid January.

As I take down my Christmas decorations, it feels good.   I can do that at my leisure.  It is a time when I clear out and clean, even paint, perhaps repair.  Rid myself of the excess and the faded.  I begin to see more clearly, for there is less. As I began packing up the Christmas music boxes, and house décor, I found my way to the storage room that usually only my husband and I see, to retrieve some boxes, to which I must admit, is typically overstuffed and lacking order.   As I began to bring out the “rest of the year” decorations, I found the watering can I had been on a mad search for, a few days ago.  When I saw it, I remembered I tossed it impulsively as I was trying to make room for company.  For myself, when I lose something, it does me no good to retrace my steps or look specifically for the item lost.    Invariably I find what I am looking for, at the precise moment I am looking for something else.

So true to life isn’t it?  We don’t know how much we love and need someone, until we can’t find them; until they are gone.   Loss always has its gains.  We are forced to look so deep for something that we find something else.  The something we didn’t realize we had so callously discarded.  In an instant you can lose something, but in another instant you can find it again.

I have learned this season that the way the year ends — in a big lit up, overfed, over decorated, chaotic bang on New Year’s eve complete with fireworks, is a perfect ending to any year – that ending births a fresh new year.

For all those who lost someone they loved this past year, remember, every beginning has an ending, and yet every ending is also a beginning.   To my brother in law Michael, we will miss you, until we find you again.

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