Holiday time can be so difficult for so many people, and when I look back at some of my own holidays I see opened presents with nothing but heartache, loneliness and overconsumption.
Two Christmases spent in Iraq as a soldier; feeling forgotten by everybody despite their letters and packages. New Years spent alone in Olympia, Washington– binge watching movies alone in a two bedroom studio apartment. Kwanzaa spent in Bend, Oregon, chain smoking cigarettes and marijuana while binge playing guitar. Hanukkah spent in Seward, chasing people from bar to bar to find some kind of friend who wants to spend time with me. It was the loneliest time of year, especially after my parents died.
Thankfully I weathered those storms, and now, while I feel a little guilty to say this– it has been the best of year of my life. And the best holiday season ever! Despite everything going on in the world, I am more at peace in the present moment than ever.
While millions of others are struggling to get pregnant or to keep their babies alive, we have a healthy baby that is growing into a healthy infant.
While millions of others are struggling with loneliness and lack of purpose, we have a God/s/Goddess who loves us wholeheartedly and we love them! And we have each other to spend time with, a house to upkeep, land to plant in the spring, a driveway to shovel and animals to feed.
While millions of others are struggling to pay bills, we paid off our mortgage, don’t have a car payment, and pay roughly $130 dollars a month for insurance and phone bills. (Not to mention feed for two big dogs, chickens, and a cat. ) We have a couple thousand dollars in savings while others are dying of heart attacks due to stress.
While millions of others are struggling to buy food, we have a surplus of frozen and canned goods, plus WIC provides our family plenty of goodies every month and we are given a box of free produce every week from the Senior Center. Plus, we live close enough to two grocery stores that are overloaded with food that we can afford. While millions if not billions of others are starving to death or cannot afford to eat healthy food.
While millions of others are cold and hypothermic or overheating and hyperthermic, we are in a warm home with a wood stove to burn firewood and a Toyo Stove to burn Diesel. At times we burn both and get so hot we have to strip down to our naked selves and lie on the cold floor to cool down. We step outside into the icy, frosty night to take a break from the heat, then come back in.
While millions of others don’t have a home, house, trailer, shed, tarp, tent, nothing at all… we have a house, a yurt, a high tunnel, a couple sheds, a tent, and three vehicles to sleep in with plenty of blankets.
While millions of others don’t have water to drink, bathe, cook or clean, we have a well that pumps water clean enough to do all of these things, with the right filtration system.
While millions of others are chasing booze with cigarettes and cigarettes with cocaine and cocaine with meth… or chasing online shopping binges with daily trips to the gas station or to the Box Store… we are content with what we have and don’t feel the need to use substances or to get high on shopping and crazy adrenaline rushes.
While millions of others don’t have time to do anything but work and sleep, we spend every day with each other doing what we love. Reading, writing, painting, listening to music, playing with our baby, watching movies, taking walks, talking with loved ones and cooking good food.
While it may seem like I am bragging, I am basically reminding myself of what I have. What I sometimes take for granted or look past toward some new adventure or country to travel to or new person to “help.” I am simply taking time to look in the mirror, to remember where the hell I came from. To remember the suicidal thoughts, loneliness, dozens of thousands of dollars in debt, overeating and buying and drinking and chasing friendships, chasing God/s, chasing Intellectual Pursuits, and chasing every other dang thing instead of taking time to open my heart, listen to the clouds, smell the dogs’ paws, and watch snow pile up on the driveway.
While my heart goes out to the billions of people who are struggling right now, who are confused and divided and full of anger, my heart stays here within my own peaceful home. A heart full of blood, warmth and gratitude.
May God/s/Goddesses/Buddha/whatever you believe in, bless your next year! I hope all of your objectives are achieved, goals checked off, and dreams come true.
Like Robert Service said in his poem: “The Men That Don’t Fit In”
“And each forgets as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace–
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.”
P.S. I keep editing this post because the list of “little things” that I am SO SO SOOO privileged to have keep coming up. Health of body and mind, ability to use all my senses (at one level or another), ability to love and feel love, ability to communicate with people, and the ability to be privileged as all heck to have a piece of land to grow my own food and listen to the bees buzz in the summer.