… on holidays blooming not looming

the quiet season?

Okay, c’mere.

‘Cuz the holidays are nearly upon us.

These times are a concoction of many emotions and experiences and some are pretty good. But some have you “accidentally” dropping the Thanksgiving turkey on your sister’s head while your brother-in-law tries not to laugh as your dog chases his ‘Auntie Susie’ – who has leapt out of her seat and is now running for the kitchen –  because now she smells irresistibly delicious, the turkey juice completely obliterating her usual Jean Naté After-Bath Splash.

What? Those things didn’t happen in your family?

To me, there is something about the over and undercurrents of family and siblings and the whole wHeirdness of the emotional concoction that is at once off-putting and completely magnetic.

Then again, I’ve also been alone on a December night when the light of the Christmas tree has felt like a gateway to the heavens.

Yes, I’m a big fan of the holidays.

Seriously. Huge.

If you’ve been ponderin’ with me here for a while now, you know this.

I love them unapologetically.

I just do.

But if great and magical holiday seasons depended on them arriving via a clean path of untrodden snow, I’d be sunk.

Mine have this irritating tendency of showing up via paths overtrodden with a mixture of mud and reindeer dung.

No, seriously.

Emergency spinal surgery (me). Coma one Thanksgiving day (Number One Son Sam). There have been family divorces and sicknesses and deaths and mix ups and addictions and mental illnesses and blow ups and that first holiday season after losing my mother and sister unexpectedly, within a week of each other (and in completely different ways).

There are folks who’ve had it far worse. This I know.

For me, since I have yet to find a magic spell that at once suspends all dung-related occurrences and ensures my house is beautifully decorated, my food excellent, and every human in my life behaves exactly as I would like them to and always arrives precisely on time (including me)… well, since I can’t conjure up that spell, I have to make do.

The thing is, though I do much in and around the holidays – from decking my halls to making oodles of food – I don’t ask for much.

I do ask for one thing though.

A dash of wonder.

It’s not something I cant plan on or scheme for, or strategize toward, or demand it show up on schedule.

So there is nothing I have to do or stress about, really.  Easy-peasy.

All I have to do, is to be open to it.

That’s it.

Wonder wants to be seen, felt… experienced.

And so often it’s not about big, grand gestures.

‘Silent, incredulous marvel’ is one of wonder’s favorite goals.

It hides in the ringing bells of a Salvation Army volunteer.

And in the first snowflakes, at just the right moment.

In a sign from a loved one just gone…

Or one we’ve missed for many years.

It could be part of a free hug from an excited little boy with Down syndrome, unable to contain his joy from just seeing Santa.

That was a gift I actually received one year, and I will never forget it.

Or in the feeling of hope’s blanket wrapping around us, just in time to chase despair’s chill away.

Don’t even get me started on the whole children’s laughter and glee derived from unquestioning belief in magic, or the reverence of those celebrating the gift of a child’s birth (and a power and love nearly beyond understanding). As a lapsed Catholic, O Holy Night can still bring tears of wonder.

The thing is…

I don’t get to chase down the holiday I want.

The holidays, and the wonder, will only meet me where I am.

That’s the way it works.

Trying to force anything else can result in a disastrous mess of unmet expectations and sugar plums turn to sugar glums.

It’s roll-your-eyes-at-my-bad-pun simple.

But it’s not simplistic.

Wonder never is.

The strange thing is that, during the rest of the year, wonder seems to show up in the world around me… in the waves or the wind or smells of salt and pine. But during the holiday season, it’s easier to find it in my fellow humans. A few more helping hands, a feeling of shared excitement and joy and magic maybe.

But also?

And not least-so?

It might be the twinkle lights.

Thanks for readin’.

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