The Pen Is…Feeling the Holiday Blues

Ana and Hana say goodbye to 2020 and ring in the ever so hopeful 2021. 2021 is greeted with further isolation due to the continuation of the pandemic which is not lost on Ana who is experiencing acute isolation and loneliness during the holidays. Not only is it the very first “pandemic holiday”, it is also Ana’s first holidays living alone and divorced. In a vulnerable reading, Ana shares a story she wrote on the evening of Christmas night while allowing the depths of grief to take hold. Hana discusses with Ana the importance of Ana’s spiritual practice during the holiday season and how she may pass on her own traditions to her son.

Originally recorded on January 17, 2021.

The Loneliest Christmas

I have never been alone on Christmas. Until today. Christmas has always been an occasion where I allowed myself to experience joy, joy in the moment, joy in sensations and experiences, joy in the belief of magic. As a nonreligious but heavily spiritual person, Christmas has become a baffling holiday. My tree, the first one I ever cut and put up on my own, sits resplendent in green, white, and red lights, with hastily tucked presents in various stages of unwrap spilling from beneath. Yet I sit alone watching the cheerful electric glow feeling wave upon wave of nostalgia.

What is it that drew me to this holiday as a child? There were no passionate stories of baby Jesus told by my family other than the ones told in media, school, or books. My childhood holidays were plentiful but never glorified presents and getting. Instead, I searched for a certain resonance which I ached to find each year. I began to liken that ‘feeling’ to the heavy softness of a pink glowing snowy night. The kind I can stand in and feel every beat of my heart. 

With each passing year however, I grew older and began to lose my ability to feel that quality of awe and magic – like a relationship growing stale with disillusionment. When I held my newborn son in my arms, I fantasized of Christmas’ to come, of allowing him to experience that same joy and excitement that I once felt. And it is true, at nearly 6 years old he has found that wonder. He still believes in magic and the unknown, still freshly innocent from the skepticism of our modern society that is hell bent on cutting us off from that vital connection of flow and spirit. 

However, just as important as finding that intangible joy of holiday spirit, is experiencing that joy with others. How I dreamed of hosting Christmas at my home so I could perhaps hold that space of love and excitement for my loved ones. Children excitedly run about the house preparing for the arrival of a strange man. Telling stories to my family, sharing in laughter, food, and memories of Christmas past. And for a time, I had a glimpse of that. I played host. Filled stockings. Laid long tables in my living room for multitudes of guests and family. 

Tonight is different. This year is different. More people than ever are experiencing a lonely Christmas for perhaps the first time. Many more are coping with past and recent losses of loved ones, of lost lives, of people too faraway to share in the collective joy. 

I am not a victim. I do not pity myself or think I am in any way special in my solitude. I feel a deep, cavernous sorrow. A grief so heartbreaking it threatens to burst from the pain in my chest. The grief is not just my own and it is not just about this moment in time of lost and far away memories. I am living alone for the first time in my life – I chose to break away from what no longer held me, supported me, and nourished me. And I grieve, as much as if it wasn’t my own choice. 

As I allow the flood of emotions to rise and fall with my breath, I choose to explore questions I have – before tonight – never considered. How do I experience that purity of innocence, joy, and wonder every day – not just during an intentional holiday? How have I never connected what I experienced as a child with a spiritual connection – a total and utter presence?  And why have I perceived this experience to only be allowed in connection to a certain time and a certain age? 

And of course the answers are within. I created that space as a child through passion, envisioning, and unwavering faith – I did it – no one else. And I can do it again and again, if I choose to, even tonight, on my loneliest Christmas. 

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