The winter solstice is almost here. Officially at 8:49 pm in California, the North Pole will tilt to its furthest distance from the Sun, thus creating the shortest day of the year for us in the Northern Hemisphere. This is not usually something I look forward to. And, ironically, these past couple of days have felt like the longest days ever.
While many families are in full merry, holiday swing, our family has been spending the last couple of weeks in the hospital. Not so merry. My dad, who has been fighting cancer for two and half years, has been really sick. It's an eerie sensory reminder of two years ago when we had a huge scare with his health, which I wrote about here. It's also an eerie reminder of my own health issues last year when I found myself in the ER the day after Christmas and getting surgery just a week later.
It is extremely difficult trying to process the overwhelming emotions that accompany this very real - very frightening - life situation. There are so many ups and downs. Sometimes I cry and sometimes I am angry. And sometimes I am just numb.
I am struck by the kindness of so many people, especially those who are going through their own difficult times. I am also struck by the absence of kindness in many others. But all are teachers, whether they offer kindness or not. It's easy to be drawn into a cycle of anger and hurt. I've been there and it isn't pretty. It's not what my family needs more of. And it's certainly not what the world needs more of. I know now that just a tiny droplet of kindness can be so healing. We are all very powerful spiritual beings, and when we truly believe that about ourselves the world can be a beautiful place.
We often say we should live life to the fullest. We should live in the moment. We should hold our loved ones close. These are great words, and good advice. But what does it mean? Now, during the holidays, does it mean buying presents and baking cookies? Does it mean cuddling up on the couch with a hot cup of tea? Does it mean sitting by your dad in the hospital bed doing crossword puzzles?
The truth is, it means all of these things. It can be anything you want, because it's not really about what we do, it's about how we do it. If we do everything with love and kindness in our hearts, that is all that matters.
It might seem weird that I'm not writing about all the Christmas-y things I'm doing. I'm a designer, after all. Shouldn't I be blogging about parties and cookies and holiday styling tips? Yes, I could, but that's not happening right now. Let's be real - all this holiday hoopla can be exhausting. And when you're running on emotional fumes, sometimes you just have to make the decision to skip it all. Even when it's what you do for a living. I'm here to tell you that if it's too much for you, too, it's ok. You are not a bad person. And it does not mean that you are a big Grinch. It means you're human. The holidays are not a happy time for everyone. There is no need to stress yourself. Light a couple of candles and call it a day. Remember, it's about being kind - not what color ornaments you have on your tree or how your mantle is styled.
I also struggled with buying presents - it seemed so silly - but ultimately buying presents for my family seemed like the best way to be normal. And it felt kind. Because yes, this is not a "normal" holiday season (what does that even mean, anyway?) but we can still have joy. We can still give, and share and love. Exchanging gifts, in this moment anyway, feels right. It's a way to let everyone close to me know they are special. And that is important.
The Earth and the Sun will turn again. That is for certain. But we don't know what tomorrow will hold. Really, none of us do. Our tomorrow on this Earth is not a given. But we do have right now. And in the now we have the amazing ability to love. We can share joy. We can share hope. We can choose to be a light in others' lives.
May there be much light in all of your lives this holiday season. If your season feels dark, know that kindness exists. It might just be hiding where you aren't looking. And remember that you are also powerful enough to create it. It exists in each of us. Even on the shortest, darkest days of the year.