The empty place at the table
Today is the day I am finally ready to turn on the holiday music. December 1, first day of Advent, the beginning of the season. Filled with excitement and anticipation, I dearly love Christmas. The gifting, cooking and bringing together my family and friends. The quiet moments amidst the joyful chaos when we lock eyes and know we are loved, blessed. But there is also a ribbon of melancholy that threads its way in and around my heart, the low notes of longing for those missing at the table.
Missing. Absence because of loss, estrangement, or distance creates a dark spot — like a spent bulb on the string of holiday lights. It used to be when one light went out the whole string went dark, the impact of the one consumed the whole. But now modern life and circuitry by-passes the damage and the string lights go on, glittering brightly, the small shadow of the missing outshined, nearly unnoticed unless you look carefully.
The dark underside of the holidays, overshadowed with over the top menus, decorations and frenzy is the black hole of loss, depression and longing unfulfilled. It is painful for those of us that are blessed to witness the destruction of body and soul brought on by disaster, war and cruelty. Almost like survivor’s guilt we turn away, the devastation to raw to see.
As I run, with wild abandon into the crush of the holiday season I am reminded how thinly veiled this under layer is. The mind numbing onslaught of commercialism and overly sentimental media productions so eclipse the kernels of truth, love, hope that they get encased in pounds of glitter, false glee and gravy, Overwhelming to those so fragile that to reach out and touch the hope that can be the season is far more painful than hunkering down and covering up hearts and souls damaged by life’s events. Pain so hot that those nearby suffer from the second degree burns. What can one person do? If only I could scrumble the lines, soften the edges that are the hard facts of reality’s painting. That is certainly an overwhelming thought, but perhaps all is too much to ask for. So how about some?
Wishes into action for this season
- Seek local charities to give in some small way to make the world a better place, if only for a moment, if only for one person, one child.
- To acknowledge and work on improving relationships in the here and now for these are the only times we have.
- To see beyond the glitter and shine a light of recognition for those missing at the table.
Peace be with you.