A friend of mine on Facebook said “Christmas should be a time to look at the world with wonder and excitement.” He’s right, of course, but this year that seems difficult.
I partly feel alarmed at the state of the world, and of our country. Various commentators have pointed out that Donald Trump is trading on fear, but he is also creating it. I can’t understand how people can follow this man. I find his calculated fear-mongering and racism abhorrent. I try to think the best of people, give them the benefit of the doubt, but it is hard to do that with Trump followers. The rest of the Republican field is not all that much better.
I feel like the world around me is exploding. Terrorism, and the answering hatred and paranoia aimed at the wrong people, confound me. I know that there are horrible people out there, but they seem incomprehensible. The arguments about the treatment in the press of white Christian domestic terrorists versus radicalized Muslim terrorists seem almost irrelevant sometimes.
People seem to forget that most violence is not committed by mass shooters, terrorist or otherwise. Mass shootings account for a tiny fraction of the gun deaths every year — whereas suicide accounts for a large percentage. But in place after place, gun laws are being loosened, not tightened. We have been heading down the rabbit hole towards an apocalyptic gun-filled future for some time now, and it’s only getting worse.
And yet…. That’s not what is really bothering me.
Last Christmas, The Rocket Scientist’s father was dying, and all my emotional energy was channeled towards him, and supporting RS. It was hard, but allowed me to think of things other than…
Mom died in 2014. (On Mother’s Day, yet: I loved the woman dearly, but she really had very bad timing.) It’s as though I spent a year numb, and now, this Christmas, I find I miss her terribly.
I won’t get to go to Florida to see her. I bought a mantilla in Spain that she would have loved — I was standing in the special shop that sold mantillas and shawls with tears in my eyes. I wished I could have shown it to her.
I won’t get to see her smile. I won’t get to eat her terrible cooking, that we all just smiled at and hugged her for, because she really did love people and want to take care of them. (She did, however, make a killer banana pudding. I still haven’t been able to replicate it.)
I know it must be hard for RS, as well. He misses his father, and is worried about his mother.
We get by. We go through all the holiday rituals — the tree, the lights, the gifts, the dinner. There will be laughter on Christmas morning. I find comfort in the familiar. (And in the Force: we go to see Star Wars tonight.)
And all my children will be here: the Not-So-Little-Drummer Boy is heading west from Brooklyn. This makes me very happy. While I hate that my sons have grown up and are or will be going away, I love them and enjoy their company. I know a lot of people who can’t talk to their parents, or whose children won’t speak to them. I’m lucky — my kids like spending time with me.
There is a somber joy, and there will be excitement. But right now the world is softly blanketed with sadness, and recognition of mortality.