I used to love twinkle lights. Maybe it was just a few years ago or maybe not since when I was a kid. I always loved that they used to appear out of nowhere, suddenly right after Thanksgiving, around the time that mittens and hats came out. Though filled with wet snow and gray skies, the city streets would still be splashed with color during the cold weeks before Christmas. I would look at the lights, whether they outlined a doorway or blanketed a tree, and feel warmth and comfort. I’d be filled with the same inner ease that comes from the first sip of coffee in the morning. The floor of my stomach would feel full.
And as I got older I started to hype up my birthday more and more more. Adding pressure on friends to attend because it was my special day. I never really knew why I valued those days surrounding my birthday so much until now...
Gifts weren’t necessary but I just needed all the warm bodies around me as possible. December 1st would arrive and weeks of planning would become fulfilled. I’d feel loved and special, comforted and warm.
And slowly as the days followed and the buzz of the holiday season took over, I realized that the glow that once continued through January had faded. The harshness of becoming an adult happened. And it slowly took away from me realizing how colorful the dark city streets were. Illness, and fights, and death started to define that twinkly time.
That big shiny space in the pit of my stomach started to feel more and more empty as the weeks went on. I now still cherish the time around my birthday even more, because I know that as the twinkling lights turn on around town that my spirit will dim. I’ll look at each light I pass and wait to feel that same warmth I did as a child and maybe from just a few years ago. And there's no turning back. I have to deal with the harshness each year and go through the growing pains as if forcing myself to stare straight into a candle's light. It burns as I get close, but if I look away all I'll see is darkness.
I see lovers snuggling and feel the coldness of my bed even more. I hear of family plans and feel the distance from my father even more. His holiday card and check staring back at me. The warm, fuzzy memories have been taken over by memories of hospitals and tears and distance and confusion. You don’t need to watch It’s A Wonderful Life to fully understand what some have known most of their adult life...what mothers remind their broken-hearted daughters over tearful, cold telephone calls- the holidays suck.
For me the same journal entry each year ends with this begging thought...next year can’t come soon enough.