Sunday, December 20, 2015

A plate of joy with a side of grief, please. (said no one, ever)

The Girls are in the north end of the property, cleaning things up and enjoying a fine buffet of weeds, new grasses and some pomegranate seeds thrown in for good measure. We human types are inside, watching Big Crosby and Danny Kaye hoof it up in "White Christmas." Yup, it's wintertime at the homestead.

We've found ourselves collaterally shocked by two events in the last week. One was a friend's sibling, critically injured in a car accident last week that was the result of a DUI. The other was a divorce between a couple I see on a very regular basis at the winery. 

Both these sorts of things make you realize how fragile the holiday season is. We spend so much time working up towards the perfect Thanksgiving, Hanukah, or Christmas. And occasionally, all that work and all those expectations end up marred by a tragedy. It makes you realize in many ways, it's just another day on earth and it might be silly to expect so much from it, what with life happening all around us ... and sometimes to us.

My own father went into hospice around the holidays 32 years ago and although I've certainly found my joy again, it took awhile before my Christmases were no longer saddened by that memory. And so it is for many of us this year, including the two families mentioned above.

So if you're having a joyous season, celebrate it with all your heart, all your happiness, and all your family or friends you bring close to you this time of year. Keep your expectations low so you can be impressed by how well it all actually turns out. Even the Grade C+ holidays should be celebrated for the wonderful, less-than-perfect normalcy they are. That's because things could have been (or may someday be) much less cheerful and bright than they are right now, even though right now probably comes with its own side plate of annoyances and petty grievances.

Take your joy anywhere you find it, imperfect as it is, and hold on for dear life, friends.


  1. This is advice I'll probably never, ever be able to take. :) But I can recognize that it's good advice indeed. So sorry about your friend's daughter. That is terrifying. Also sorry about your friends. It's too bad divorcing couples can't go to an island for a few years and emerge pleasant enough exes. I think that's the hardest part being friends with a divorcing couple, it seems hard to avoid the shrapnel!

    1. SO true. You also feel like one or the other is going to end up with custody of you. And it's hard to hear the stories of what went wrong and not assign blame! But all these situations, injury, death or divorce, must just be SO much worse when they happen during the holiday season and the expectation of being joyful is at such a fever pitch.

  2. We humans tend to mark unfortunate anniversaries, especially those that occur around Christmastime. Everyone has their share of bad stuff in December ... it's just how probability works. It's how we choose to process and deal with it that's important.

    The first bad thing that I can remember happening to me around the holidays was having to put my still-to-this-day heart dog to sleep during the week before Christmas. Everyone who knew told me that it was a shame, that something like this would spoil Christmas, etc. I chose to think of it as my gift to him, because his elderly body had already left the building. It's all a matter of perspective.

    I'm really sorry that you lost your father at such a young age.

    1. Thank you. In a way it's funny, I did not feel too young to lose a parent at the time...I just thought 56 was SO old. Now that I'm almost the same age and have kids, I realize I am not nearly finished parenting (or living!). I still want to be around to be an influence on my kids, even though they are adults. Just shows how much your perspective can change. And I'm sorry you lost your heart dog around the holidays, I know age can be cruel but losing our old pets still leaves a hole in our hearts, sometimes for a very long time.