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Christmas is Coming!

This phrase brings up a variety of emotions for people. As a child, I could hardly wait for Christmas. I counted the ‘sleeps’ until Christmas morning finally arrived. As a young mother, I had a sense of ‘time running away’ in the days leading up to Christmas. Would I ever meet all the expectations of the season? Now, as a grandmother, I still get excited as I shop for toys and search for the perfect book for each of my grandchildren. I am learning to slow down and enjoy each moment in the midst of all the activity.

Christmas can be a troubling time. There may be sad memories of those no longer with us. Perhaps there are breakdowns in relationships and disappointment when plans go astray. There may be a longing for peace that seems futile in light of the heart ache and pain all around.

This Christmas season I am reflecting on the question:

‘Is it possible at the same time to be broken and whole?’

This question was posed by the director of a play I attended this Christmas season. Titled, ‘Holy Mo! A Christmas Show’, it is a ‘reverently irreverent re-imagining of the Nativity’. It is produced by Pacific Theatremy favourite Vancouver theatre company.

I was struck by the ‘darkness and light’ of the Nativity Story.

What is available when I accept that it is possible to be broken and whole at the same time?

I think of my mother. Her body and her mind could be described as ‘failing, frail, broken’. She is 93 years old and is not always able to remember what day it is. Or whether or not she has had lunch.  I will see her soon. Will she know my name?

And, yet, my mother’s spirit is sweet and child-like. She smiles with gratitude and love as she accepts help form her caregivers. Her spirit and soul are whole and complete.

As I plan my visit to my parents in a few days,  I hardly know what emotions are present for me. I am happy to spend time with them, remembering past family times. My mother may have some stories to share, and I imagine she will not be able to shine as the story teller she once was.

So, alongside the happiness, I feel sadness.  I am grieving the loss of the mother I no longer have. I grieve for my father who now lives separately from his wife of 67 years, because of the special care she requires.  I am grateful for the care my mother is receiving, and I feel pain in my heart. I wonder, how can I navigate this journey in my life? I do not know how to do this.

Anne Lamott is a writer whom I love. She spoke at a conference I recently attended. She said, ‘It is okay not to know what I am doing’. She also had a mother who was frail and forgetful. Anne found solace in her writing, as I do. She compared her writing to the experience of driving at night with the headlights on. You can only see a few feet ahead, but you can make the whole journey that way.

I feel encouraged by this metaphor. It is okay to not know what I am doing as I travel this new path with my parents.

I reflect on ways I can be supported along the way. I pay attention to my breath and to what my body tells me. I accept the play of emotions I am feeling. I allow my tears to fall, and I embrace moments of laughter.

I ask for help and I receive with open arms. I visit my acupuncturist and leave with her words on my heart, ‘Be gentle, Marjorie. With yourself and with others’. I share my story with my coaching colleagues and soul sisters. They offer the gift of deep listening and I feel their love. I reach out to my coach and she tells me, ‘You are grieving. You are showing love by your grief. This is a gift you bring to your parents.’

As I accept the reality of my life and surrender to the situation in which I find myself, I experience a sense of peace and calm. I realize it is possible to be broken and whole at the same time. And, I know  that the spirit of Christmas will enliven my heart as I ponder on this mystery.

What is your Christmas like this year? Whatever your beliefs are or your traditions, I encourage you to be present and open to the mystery and magic of this Season. I would love to hear how you are able to experience love and joy in your life this Christmas.

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