A Foggy Christmas Eve

christmas eve

Anybody who knows me knows I typically get really excited for Christmas. I’m a big overgrown kid. I like the excitement and buildup before Christmas. I love setting up the big Nativity scene, although I do tend to be somewhat mischievous.  Who needs an Elf on a Shelf when you can have a sheep on the inn’s roof?

But this year wasn’t one of those years. I didn’t have that sense of innocence or the childlike buildup of excitement. I couldn’t quite say why. Even sneaking a velociraptor in with the wise men’s camels didn’t bring me the same joy as it had in the past. The weather was unseasonably warm. And too many days were cloudy, gray, rainy or foggy or all of the above. Somehow that sort matched how I felt. A little lost, a little foggy, and decidedly unsettled. You have to understand, I love fog. I love when I can’t see what I know is only a few feet away from me. But I wasn’t loving it so much when I was foggy on the inside. Spending all of Advent with the threat of unpredictable tears wasn’t helping much. The kicker came on Sunday before Christmas. I was walking through the food store when I’ll Be Home For Christmas came on the store radio. I finished my food shopping with tears streaming down my face. But the lightbulb finally clicked on.

My mother had been saying for months that going to another church for Christmas Eve Mass after 29 years at our old parish was going to be traumatic. There was no way to make it not traumatic and so, in a logical fashion, I made all the necessary firm, rational explanations that I have made since we switched to the new parish on the Sunday after Easter. But hearing Bing Crosby crooning about home brought up all the old memories and all the feelings attached to them. For the first time since my Dad died, I would be spending Christmas Eve in the simple little church that he had loved. We’ve been there for eight months now but somehow being there for Christmas made that change of location suddenly very real and very solid. At the same time it was also very unsettling and I am unsettled enough thank you very much. I’m not quite sure what home really means anymore and that’s kinda scary since I’m Mom and therefore it’s my job to make everything alright for the boys. I was actually terrified of somehow screwing up Christmas.

Christmas Eve came and we settled into our pew. The choir sang for a bit before Mass and they sang was the carol I was named after: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella. My Dad loved that song and thus my middle name is Jeanette. By the time that song was finished, I realized the fog inside had lifted. I now could see what I had known was right in front me all along: I was in the right place. I saw the same sense of peace touch my Mom and each of the boys at different points during the service and by the time Mass was over, I knew for certain I had managed to get us all home for Christmas and the only trauma involved was the foggy fear of the unknown.

Trust is not my strong suit. And spending all of Advent feeling lost in the fog and at the same time knowing the only thing to do was keep moving forward required trust. So as I sit here sipping my tea on this gray day after Christmas, I thank God for bringing me through the fog. And at the same time remind Him this would be a lot easier for me if He’d just go along with my need for control and call it a day. But I’m guessing that probably isn’t going to happen and I suppose part of me knows that might be for the best.


Advent Tears


Maybe I’m under too much stress from work and school. Maybe it’s the car that doesn’t seem to understand that it needs to last one more year without bankrupting me. Maybe it’s the fourteen nights straight of dreams where horrible black smoke monsters are coming to kill me. Maybe it’s the fact that the weather is too warm and my ice queen soul desperately need it to snow. Yeah, I guess maybe all that could be starting to wear me down. Whatever the cause, I’m finding myself ridiculously prone to tears this Advent season.

Anything and everything has set me off. Sometimes it hasn’t taken anything at all. If I’m still for more than five minutes, I’m crying. So, of course, I’m trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. And, of course, that isn’t working so well.

Riding in the car? My favorite Trans-Siberian Orchestra song set me off.

Twitter? Pictures of Rev. Daniel’s creche touched off the water works. Particularly when he pointed out that he loves this set because it’s the only one he’s ever found where Mary is actually holding Jesus like a mother instead of just staring at him in the manger like she’s not quite sure what to do with him.

Today it was as simple as taking my son to see the last installment of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.  It wasn’t the movie that got to me. I’d read all three novels so I knew what was coming. No, it was the commercial before the previews before the movie that did me in. There’s a Windows commercial where their NYC employees flash mobbed outside an Apple store singing Let Peace Begin With Me.

Oh no. Not going there. This is stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Cheesy. Sappy. Sentimental. Shit where are the tissues?! Seriously, have I gotten that pathetically sappy that I’m crying over commercials now? Really? This is a new low.

Or is it?  Do I really want to shut down that softer side of myself? I know my weakest points. I have serious issues with trust. I rarely feel safe. But over the last few years, I let my defenses down. I allowed myself to trust more and there are at least some places and times when I feel mostly safe. In short, I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable again. That vulnerability doesn’t come without a price. Reconnecting with the innocent, childlike wonder-filled part of myself makes the world a big, beautiful place that I love. But it also means that the vitriol, fear, hatred and violence hit much deeper now. Putting my infamous protective inner walls back up no longer seems like an option I can live with.

So now what? As I struggle with this teary feeling where nothing feels solid, I hang to a few lines from The Shack – which I am re-reading for the nineteenth time.

“Jesus, I feel lost.”

“I know… But it’s not true. I am with you and I’m not lost. I’m sorry it feels that way, but hear me clearly. You are not lost.”