Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Other Sides of Fences

This year has been one of the best of my life. I’ve had months filled with acceptance and joy, and a sense of inner calm that is very new to me. And all this without tangible change in my outer life, just in the inner way I embrace the ups and downs of my journey. There is something special, I think, about the peace we find when we don’t get the things we want. In the past, I’ve struggled with the feeling that I’m running in place, not getting anywhere, especially as regards my goals (including writing). And it was gratitude that led to every good thing in the past year, so it’s a bit ironic that just before Thanksgiving, my gratitude-in-ator has just plain crapped out.

Why? Oh, that would be the envy burning up my insides and stifling all my happy thoughts.

And where does this evil envy spring from? That would be stinking holidays and Norman Rockwell (yeah, I’m blaming Norman Freaking Rockwell).

This season of holidays and cheer always does me in, because I start looking over fences and envying what is on the other side. The big families. Warm holidays with people who love you. Marital bliss and well-behaved children who help do the dishes on Thanksgiving. Families who live close together and never argue. All that warmth and the smell of turkey (which I don’t even eat). I envy what I don’t have and it chokes me. Not everyone lives close to their families. Not everyone can afford (money/time off) to travel for the holidays (and be honest, it’s a terrible time to be traveling). Not everyone has found their person and gotten married, or had perfect children who will make the yams (and I don’t even know what a yam is). The things we don’t have can spoil the things we do. I get that, but every holiday season I get snared by the envy I feel for people who do live close to their families, who are married and happy, who have holiday laughter and wrapped presents under their Christmas trees. And every year, I just root for it to be over so I can get back to appreciating my life without having that life diminished by Hallmark ads.

The other thing my envy does is blot out the fact that I’m not the only one who has a tough time with this season, that perfect families are fictional, that even people who are surrounded by families can feel alone, and that many people become overwhelmed by the energy necessary to make the perfect holiday seasons for their loved ones.

No one’s got perfect and every life has struggles. I get that. I should be grateful that I’m healthy, that my border collie is still alive after his near-death experience this year, and that I do have great friends and family (even far away) who love me.

And I really need to try harder to ignore the other sides of fences and be happy with my own land.

I will try.

Quote for the Day from Rainer Maria Rilke

“Now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been...”


Kasie West said...

I love that you used the word 'freaking' in your post. It make me laugh. I'm sorry this time of year is hard for you. I wish I could transplant you into my house for the holidays. Then when the kids are screaming and throwing toys at one another and complaining that Santa didn't bring the what they wanted for Christmas you can feel all warm and fuzzy inside. : ) No, but in all seriousness, I understand that need to feel surrounded, especially this time of year. I'm sorry.

Tricia said...

I'm envious around Christmas too. My friends all seem to have big families who live close. Mine are spread out all over the place. Thanksgiving is when I get to visit with my sister.

But Christmas is still joyous with my spouse and two kids. I need to focus on that and not the Norman Rockwell version I think I should be having.

Wish you were at my house TG sharing my organic cranberry sauce. And yams too.

Anonymous said...

I love you dearly and am grateful I have your house to run away to escape from the holidays and family "bliss".

Technically we're at 3 and a wake up now!!


Jemi Fraser said...

I'm one of the lucky ones who is surrounded by family - so I don't always remember to think about those who don't have their families close by. I hope you can enjoy the time - and try to ignore those Norman Rockwell moments!

So glad Darby is still hanging in there! Hope he's getting stronger with time :)

Take care and know I'm sending warm thoughts your way!