By Mary Summerbell
Looking back at 2017, I say, “Whew! What the heck was that?” Ever since Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016, I have felt like I’m living in a blender. I feel like the basic elements of not just American government, but of human decency and just plain good sense, here in the United States, have been deconstructed – sliced, diced, and half-pureed into a pulpy, yukky mess swirling around me.
Sometimes I feel a strange, strong, impulsive desire to frantically grab at what is happening and try to put it back like it was. Sometimes, for just nanoseconds, when I’m waking up in the morning, I still hope that all this has been one horrendous collective nightmare and that when I turn on the T.V. set the newscasters will be talking about something – anything – besides this new twisted version of reality that I don’t like.
So many issues – shifting, spinning so fast. Travel bans. Immigration. The Wall. Voter registration. Health Care. Women’s Rights. LBGTQ in the military. Guns. Violence. Mass murders. Pending tax reforms. A weakened State Department as the president tweets insults to friend and foe nations, increasing the threat of nuclear annihilation. Environmental issues lost in the fray. Explosions of sexual harassment allegations – everywhere. All this and Russian influence in our election, too. Collaboration? Who lied to whom, when – will we ever know the truth? Like I said – “Whew! News is outdated, not in days, but just minutes. No wonder we feel pressure.
My soul says, “Embrace the chaos!” My personality? Well – it’s really resisting this change. To navigate life gracefully and skillfully, (or even adequately to minimally or barely), I know it is best to accept whatever is happening, to take what my ego sees as a sad, bad, surrealistic situation and see some light in it, find hope of help for us all. I want to strive, to be inspired to use everything in my life for personal growth, and to contribute to community evolution. But that’s high-minded stuff, and this is hard. This is tough. This is a difficult and disconcerting challenge for me.
As for many. I realize that the majority of people in this country are feeling some kind of tension, stress and pressure, like I am. Political and personal concerns affect us all, perhaps especially during the holidays, which bring pleasures and treasures, but tensions of their own. Just when we want to be happiest, there’s another twist. Considering all the events of 2017, many of us may not be in much of a jolly holiday mood – not cheered up by Trump’s promise to bring back “Merry Christmas.” But, no matter what we feel, we must move through it – keep going forward, simply because in this life’s time-space setup it’s the only way we can go – unless we give up. And I refuse to do that.
Something happened recently that delighted me. It came from a holiday tradition I started with my children, giving each of them a special ornament, from me, each Christmas. When they were little I picked them out, and as they grew, they chose their own. My inspiration for this was that, when I was a kid, I loved so much to sit by the Christmas tree, with all the sparkling garlands, twinkling ornaments and shining lights. It was all bright and colorful and magical – exciting, but somehow soothing and peaceful and joyful, too – especially at night when the lights really did shine in the darkness. Many of my best and greatest moments of holiday happiness came in quiet pondering by the tree. My ornament tradition came from a loving desire to pass some of that happiness on to my children, and now their children.
Not long ago my twin grandsons came for a visit. They had just gone shopping with their mom to find their special ornament from her for this year. They were so excited, as they held them up to show me. Alex had chosen a chandelier ornament – all sparkly silver swirls with plastic crystals in abundance – that would do any Barbie doll house proud. A curious choice for the rough-and-tumble boy I know him to be. I asked him why he chose that one, out of all the ones he had seen. But he just kept repeating, “Isn’t it beautiful, Granny? Isn’t it beautiful?” So I just grabbed him and hugged him and shared his joy as he jumped up and down in my arms.
My other grandson, William, is strangely enamored of whale sharks, after seeing some in the animal books I read to him and his brother. Well, lo and behold, he had found an ornament that’s a plastic, but looks like glass, pastel rainbow, iridescent – you guessed it – whale shark! Now, that’s a rare treasure. I would have never thought such a thing existed. And he was so happy to have it. Whoever designed it would never guess the particular joy it brought to one little boy.
Those unexpected, funny, silly, happy minutes with my grandsons were as close to pure joy as anything else I’ve ever experienced in my life. I was so fully in the moment that there was no time or space for blender mess thoughts or feelings to enter. It was magic. Only later did I realize this. I didn’t know I could feel that way.
So, don’t give up. Please. Just keep going, step by step. And be open to moments. Open to opportunities for light to shine through. Let it shine for you. Like it did for me – long ago, as a child by the tree, and now, with my family.
A friend of mine, trying to cheer me up recently, and help me get into the Spirit of Christmas, advised me to try to see the holidays through the eyes of a child. “Yeah – right!” I thought. I didn’t know it would prove so true – that I would see the magic not just through my grandsons’ eyes, but see even more clearly back through a tradition created by me. The best surprise of all is to find that the child’s eyes I could first see a happy Christmas through are mine.