This time of year is one of deep reflection for me. It has been that way since I was twelve or eleven. That was a painful time for me. My family dysfunction was rampant and I was old enough to be exposed to it, instead of being sequestered because I was too young. One of my first memories of having insomnia for a prolong period was also at this time of year and began at that age. It has repeated for most of my life and it is not always such a bad thing. I feel we need time to step back and reflect.
I remember sitting by the fireplace with dying embers from the fire my parents had shared all evening. Of course there were the overflowing ashtray and glasses along with the martini mixer still present. My mother would decorate the mantel with a spectacular arrangement of greens and topiary designs. My mother had begun to teach me her art of working with natural materials and flowers and so I appreciated the beauty of her work. It was about this time my mother also allowed me to assist with the unpacking of the small detailed figurines that comprised the manger or crèche. I would sit and gaze at the splendid arrangement and placement of greenery, flowers and candles with the figurines strategically nestled within. When my mother passed away, I insisted on getting the figurines and to this day, still spend time placing and decorating my mantle in her tradition. I do not come close to her abundant talent in creating masterpieces. I still find comfort in sitting and just looking at the lights and decorations, much like I did way back as a young teen.
This time of year, with the long nights and quiet streets, there is a haunting appeal that makes me dig deep into my thoughts. I love the illumination of the houses, windows and varied lighting displays. There is something very cozy and comforting about the soft illuminations.
My reflection this year is different than the past in its intensity. I know I am at a crossroads of some sort. I am been facing my mortality with a little more awareness. I feel time is slipping by me. If you want to kill a conversation that is a topic no one wants to talk about. I feel like I need to do something extraordinary but do not have a clue what it is. My insomnia has started, but because of the drug I am on, it is not as bad as in the past fifty years. I actually do not mind because I know that this time will pass and there is a reason for it.
This is my time to take stock of what is, what I did this past year, and what I did not. And because I am who I am, I grieve a bit for what I did not do. I acknowledge with gratitude the best and not so best of times as they all are learning moments. I plan for things I want to do in the next months and year. And with a mindful approach I focus on the moment that I am in and feel the safety of it. This is a new effort for me and it takes concentration.
I know that this time of year is more than twinkling lights and glitter. But as a young child, there were moments of bonding with my mother that occurred naturally. I wish I could say there was a hiatus from the violent eruptions of my father, but that would not be true. I have some real strong memories of him through tantrums and being destructive. But this time allowed for dreaming and hope. It was a time for singing which was very much a part of my life. It was a time to be caring and giving and no one thought it was cheesy to be insipid with cheer. I could be me which was very vulnerable but there seemed to be a truce amongst my siblings. My fondest Christmas memories were at midnight on Christmas Eve when we my mother would read the Christ story from the Bible and someone had the honor of reading the Night before Christmas. Each child had a candle that was theirs and each child would light it at the beginning of the gathering. The candles were pine trees. There were green pine candles for the boys and a red one for my sister. I was the last one born, and for some reason I did not have a pine tree. I had a white angle with blue wings. That was a special honor to me and to this day I have collected small angels. When I wrote this post was the first time I remembered the little angel candle in a long time and realized the connection to the other angels I have in the house. Wonder-ful!