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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

thoughts on Christmas (finally)

Dear FH,

(Who I will spend many Christmas mornings nestled closely by).

I never want to wake up alone on Christmas morning again. 

That’s the worst part about this whole single business.  Yeah, I’ve got the freedom to figure out who I am, to write, to sit for hours in coffee shops with my girlfriends, to work, to play, to study.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m very thankful for the position that I’m in.  Quasi-steady job with a respectable income, loads of girlfriends and soul-sister discoveries, a family who loves me dearly, a civic freedom that entails my complete expression, and a pursuit of an exciting dream that is becoming a slow, but evident, reality.

But I slept on the eve of Christmas with, instead of sugar plumbs, visions of customers dancing in my head.  I of course dawned my high starched collar and bright green tie and served food to strangers on Christmas day.
For the second year in a row.

This is when the whole line of independence and loneliness begins to violently blur.  Loneliness is usually the winner.  It’s moments like these that remind me to keep that determined joy.  To swallow the emotions working their way up my throat, keeping them from exposing my inward self through the expression I am undoubtedly wearing on my face.

Because my thoughts and actions were focused on ensuring that others - the well-to-do, and sparkling strangers who will undoubtedly forget my name and my face a moment after they’ve settled their bill - have a well-to-do, sparkling Christmas.

And I’m afraid I’ll be punished, somehow, for it.

I can’t help but think about the story in the Bible about Mary and Martha.  Martha is the woman I connect with.  Christ was in her midst, but she toiled away her hours playing the part of the hostess.  She was sweeping, cleaning, making sure her guests wine goblets were full. 

I’m sure she was the Biblical equivalent of Donna Reid.  Just replace the sandals with high heeled pumps and the similarities are uncanny.

I imagine Martha scurrying around her kitchen, moving around those who have gathered.  There’s no getting in the way of a woman who’s trying to host a party.  Her guests are trying to offer their best to help, but really they’re just a nuisance.  Her hair has fallen in her face, and her cheeks are flushed with focus and aggravation. 

She’ll never ask for help.  She can do it all by herself.  With a polite and passive stubbornness, she continues to work herself to death.  Meanwhile, her co-hostess Mary,
who has done nothing she might add, is just sitting, in a quiet peaceful reverence.

“Get up off the floor!” She sharply whispers to Mary.  “We. Have. So. Much. Work. To. Do. And you’re just
sitting there!”  The desperation in her voice is sharp. 
But Mary is no more just sitting there than a woman sits on the beach looking at the ocean roll onto the shore, or a man sits on a park bench watching fiery red and orange leaves fall to the ground on a crisp autumn day.  She’s not passive in her attitude of sitting - she’s soaking in the moment.  
And the character of Christ is quick to remind Martha that she’s toiling for the finite, for the things that will be gone.  Mary’s attitude is correct.

And you know, FH, I feel like the past year and a half I’ve been toiling too.  I’ve been pushing people out of the way, I can do things all by myself.
Get out of my way, I can do it all.  Working twelve plus hour days, feeling guilty that I’m not working more, wanting to have a little free time but in the meantime still looking down on those who seem to just be sitting there.

That’s kind of how my Christmas season was spent.  Until I just couldn’t take it any more.  I couldn’t jot down one more drink order, memorize any entree specifications, deal with any more guests with special dietary needs who expected me to magically be able to accommodate within a ten minute notice.  
So I cashed in five days worth of my paid time off and headed home to dear old Mechanicsville just minutes after my shift on Christmas day.  I stopped by my apartment just long enough to untie my apron from my waist, jerk away my green neck tie and slip into sweats.  Then I sped home in a way I’m sure I should have been more aware of cops on the road.  
Because even though I woke alone Christmas morning, I didn’t want to go to bed alone Christmas night. 

My family was already gathered as I pulled into the driveway of my beautiful home.  My mom, dad, brother and sister scooped the dirty laundry and my two duffel bags out of the trunk of my car before I could barely put the car in park.  We trudged up the steps leading to my tiffany blue bedroom together, and sat talking on the floor of my cramped little space I flee to when I just can’t take it any more. 

My little haven was lit with twinkle lights and candles my father puts in the windows every Christmas.  And there I knew that for once this season, I would lay my head down and relish in the fact that my family was just a hall or closed door away.  There were people in my midst who were going to insure the fact that I, too, had a sparkling, fulfilling Christmas.

Even if it happened a few days after the fact. 

So, FH, I’ve had a few days to relish in the love of God, to spend these all-too-quickly passing days baking, reading, writing and loving.  I’ve had time to be Mary for just a little while, before the Martha within me begins to study, serve and worry once more.

And even though you’re not in my life yet, and though I’m quite by myself at times...
I’m not alone.
B. 
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