I have only two emotions during the Christmas season, blissfully happy and sad to the point of tears. There's no in between, and I can jump from one to the other in a heartbeat. I'd like to blame it on my mixed up hormones, but I've been this way for several years. The death of my nephew probably has a little to do with it because Christmas just isn't the same after you bury a child. However, I think I just have to chalk it up to me being me. As my grandma used to say, I'm just tender hearted. I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and I just can't help it. Those of you familiar with the Meyer's Briggs Personality Test will find it no surprise that I'm an ENFP. For those of you not familiar with that test, just know that it means I'm off the charts in the "emotional" part of my personality. Gold star, A+ with a smiley face on my paper off the charts. I'm an empathizer, a sympathizer and a sap. I'll laugh with you, cry with you and take on whatever emotion you're likely to be feeling at any time. Which means I can be moved to loud laughter, tears or jeers without much effort. And sometimes it drives my family crazy, although they've gotten somewhat used to me crying at the drop of the hat. They just shake their heads when I cry in church or at the movies or while watching a touching television commercial. Sister mercy, that commercial that's running right now that features the soldier in some far off country reading the Christmas book his child has recorded is killin' me! Killin' me. And I don't dare linger over the Hallmark Channel. Stopping on that channel is just asking for trouble. In fact, when there's a Hallmark Hall of Fame special on CBS, Hubby just groans because he knows I'm going to want to watch it, and I'm going to cry before it ends. I have to keep tissues in the house just in case there's a Steel Magnolias marathon on TBS. As Truvey says, laughter through tears is one of my favorite emotions. And that pretty well sums up the holidays for me.
I find plenty of joy during December. There are get togethers with loved ones, parties with friends, and I love the children's programs. I ran the audio/video booth at church the other night during the preschool program, and it was a doozy. I haven't laughed that much in weeks. They were just cute, cute, cute. But at the same time all of this is going on, I can't help but see the stark differences between the haves and the have not's as daddy calls it. Christmas is an economic divider. No doubt about it. While some are blowing money to the four winds on lots and lots of presents, there are so many people who just don't have money to buy necessities. Some of them can't afford their electricity or their medicine.
There are children whose Christmas dreams will be disappointments. A local gentleman who portrays Santa at local events came to our Stuff the Truck event. He's a wonderful fellow who has a radio call-in show for children who want to talk to Santa. He gets calls from all over the world each Saturday, and recently he asked a young caller what he wanted for Christmas. The little boy asked why it would matter because he didn't get anything last year. Not one single present. It broke my heart to hear that. It broke Santa's, too.
I've seen people in recent weeks who literally had no food on their shelves at home and had no idea how they were going to feed their children. While I'm sitting around dreaming about how I can wrangle a trip to Italy, there are those who don't have enough to eat. And there are those who are alone. A FaceBook post by a friend this week made me think about the number of people I know who lost parents or loved ones this year. Just this morning, I talked at length with a friend who lost her mother. It was about the fifth time this Christmas season that I shed a tear or two. I haven't even begun to think about the emotions that will be rolling through my soul on Christmas Day when Mama J.'s not around. Christmas was a very big deal to her, and Sunday will definitely be different for us than it has in the past as we feel the family circle on Hubby's side getting smaller and smaller each year.
And I'm not really sure where I'm going with all of this other than to say I hope you have noticed, too. You all seem like good folks, so I imagine you have. I hope in the midst of all the hustle and chores and shopping madness, you've noticed the folks among us who are in pain this season. The people who are spending their first Christmas without a loved one or dealing with the dysfunction in their families. When I went to Al-Anon, I learned very quickly that Christmas is a combustible time for many families. There are many people out there, some that are likely your friends, who are just trying to get through the 25th. I can't help but think of that line in that old Emerson, Lake and Palmer song, Father Christmas, "They sold me a dream of Christmas". Movies, television and stores sell us the idea that the holidays are joyous for everyone and that our families, homes and gifts should all be perfect. We can never measure up to that image of the season, and frankly, I've quit trying. I love Christmas folks, but I feel your pain.
I'm lucky, I have a wonderful family, and I find true joy in family and church at Christmas. When we're together this weekend, we'll get to talking about old times, and my peeps will probably make me laugh. Laugh until I cry.
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