The Christmas season is permeated with emotion. For some, it is a time of joy, gratitude, and celebration; for others, it exacerbates feelings of loss, loneliness, and isolation. For most, the emotional reality of the holiday season lives in the space between. This post offers an poetic vignette into the liminal nature of the Christmas season.
I recall the first Christmas I awoke alone. It was the first of several. Transformative experiences endure as lasting patterns of energy in body, mind, and spirit. These energy forms can be beneficial or harmful. Christmas had always been a source of positive energy until its liminal nature emerged to teach me about loss from which there is no retreat.
It is here, on a liminal frontier, that we can learn our most valuable lessons in life. Even loss can expose something positive.
A personal perspective not intended to offend… We are all free to choose a story to believe in. I have tried but no single story endures. I am not interested in knowing which God to follow. I am not interested in which religion is right. I am not interested in adopting faith to provide relief from existential angst. I am not interested in the neon commercial whine that overwhelms the sensibilities.
I am interested in how the Christmas season can become a source of gratitude, belonging, and relationship. I want to know how the mercurial nature of the holiday season can become a source of compassion. And I am inspired to pursue that which makes the season comforting, creative, and fulfilling.
I wonder, however, if there is a way to step outside the defensive barricades of our most entrenched beliefs, even for a moment, and know each other for the first time.
There is another possibility. What if no one has the answer? What if no one really knows? What if no one ever will? Is the acknowledgement of our limitations the origin of wisdom? Perhaps, in the end, our task is to simply to preserve and celebrate the mystery.
We live in an age of outrage. It is exhausting and toxic. Still, there is nothing to be gained from a review of the catalog of human excess or itemizing the depths of our greed, want, and consumption. May Christmas serve as a reminder of something more essential than that. May it remind us of genuine presence; that is, the humbling mystery that there is something rather than nothing at all.
If the Christmas season conjures something broken within, then may that brokenness become a beacon for understanding. I used to wish the holiday season away by contracting and constricting my presence. Now I try to make myself expansive enough to hold it. We all know it’s not about gifts, sentimental songs, and jingling bells.
Christmas is about cultivating the spirit of gratitude to make something meaningful out of that which is broken.
And maybe in working with our own brokenness we can offer something of value to those around us at the same time.
I know Christmas will never feel completely comfortable, nor does it need to. It is our discomfort that reminds us of what needs to be done. The holiday season is about having the leisure to do the work that matters most.
There will always be heartbreak that we must find a way to inhabit. There will still be experiences of loss, loneliness, and isolation. And, as much as we hope otherwise, that difficult experience of waking alone Christmas morning may return to haunt us. Life offers no certainty and inside this truth we discover our true belonging.
Have we become distracted from that which matters most? Have we grown accustomed to living a life of contingency? Christmas asks us to find gratitude in the here and now.
I have learned that the generosity of the holiday season sometimes conjures a liminal space in which meaning must be claimed from feral uncertainty. We should not sterilize the experience of Christmas through bland routine and stale tradition.
Christmas is not a tradition, it is a source of creativity.
Sometimes the holiday season becomes a liminal space. It contracts the margin of safety between joy and loneliness, gratitude and loneliness, and celebration and isolation becomes fragile and intimate. This means that Christmas can be a remarkably generous space in which meaning and purpose are born.
I recall the first Christmas I awoke alone and, for the first time, smile.