Right before Thanksgiving, I went over to Safeway for meat. I noticed the display cases, normally loaded with ground beef and pot roasts now included prime rib. Legs of lamb appeared. Beautiful hams. All these delicacies meant to be shared. And here I was, yet again, looking forward to a holiday season of eating alone. Even latke mixes made enough potato pancakes for a crowd! I sunk into my general holiday funk.
I know I am not the only one who makes it through the year until Halloween pretty well, year after year. Sure I would love to get a valentine. I always have to plan ahead to find a friend to watch fireworks with me. But being alone is doable.
Then we get to the Holidays. I look around. Everyone else has all these wonderful plans. Family is coming. Gifts to be bought. Cruise tickets are purchased.
This is not new. I remember as a child seeing stores fill up with gifts. My friends’ pink-cheeked excitement felt contagious. Presents seemed to pile up under everyone else’s trees. Kathy ran across the street into my living room with her six new records, a cashmere sweater and a heart on a chain from her boyfriend late on Christmas Eve. I looked at the too-big pair of slippers my mother had given me. My hopes dashed, I moved on each January.
I have finally, though, realized after 70 years, the experience of Kathy and Maggie from across the street were the basis for the myths only a few can realize. For every friend with a stash of great gifts I knew many more who got slippers similar to mine.
As I walked through Safeway last month, sunk into a seasonal depression, I began to think of ways to survive this season. When my disappointments grew as a child, I solved the problem by converting to Judaism. My conversion wasn’t driven by this, but it had an impact. I cut out decorations. I complained about the wide distribution of holiday music. But I realized, this year, these reactions brought me through the season with negative emotions. In some ways I resented Christian merry-making.
So, I decided to put up a bit of decoration. A FedEx truck brought me a lovely manzanita branch. I was able to weight down the branch before adding ornaments, bells and birds on its branches. I found a lightbulb which changes colors, bathing my branch in blue, orange, yellow, red, violet and green light. Its beauty suffuses my house. And I feel joy I haven’t felt before, this time of year.
By embracing the beauty of holiday decor, I have found a new perspective on these generally dismal days. I find myself sitting in my living room, immersing myself in the fluctuation of colors on my branch. And, as the colors sink into my soul, I feel joy.
Miracles continue. Happy Solstice!
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"