Wednesday, December 19, 2012

calm & bright.

Listening To: The Rainbow Connection by Weezer and Hayley Williams (this cover is one of my favorite non-Christmas Christmas songs. If you don't have it yet, gift yourself!)
Thanks: for entering the Paperdoll giveaway on the Susie Mag Facebook page. Whoa, what a turnout! :) 

Last night, I called my BFF to tell her a story about a flying squirrel. We also talked about Starburst and Christmas presents. (My conversational flow patterns are very similar to Buddy the Elf, obviously.) Eventually, the conversation shifted into serious territory, though. We chatted about a wonderful individual we know who is 1.) 30 and 2.) just found out she was battling a rare form of cancer. Guh.

This is what created an especially weird juxtaposition: I was sitting at my table, which is currently full of jagged wrapping paper scraps, curls of gold ribbon, and name tags festooned with smiling snowmen, geek-chic penguins, and bubbly snowflakes. In other words: happy, somewhat tacky, Christmas stuff.

I flicked at the ribbons and said, "This is a heavy Christmas, isn't it? It feels so dark." And she totally agreed.

I'm absolutely not going to pretend I know the grief so many families are overwhelmed with right now. That would be moronic. I'm not going to wax poetic about grief (other than to offer this eloquent gem: it sucks) or politics. Social Media seems to make lots of people feel like insta-experts in various fields. I'm not an expert at anything. When national tragedies (or personal tragedies) happen, I mostly feel very fragile and inarticulate. It's a sad irony that a season of light and hope will also mark the saddest days some people will experience in their lifetimes. But what overwhelms me the most, in a good way, is how much love and kindness I see all around me, even when the darkest dark days creep in.

I keep thinking of a story I heard of Robert Louis Stevenson, swashbuckling author of Treasure Island. Note: there are probably parts of the story I'm forgetting or not telling right. But this is how I heard it: As a kid, Stevenson lived in a house on a hill, overlooking the quiet Scottish town where he lived. One afternoon, as he propped against the window sill to watch night press down against the valley, he became mesmerized by the lamplighters in the village. He watched them scurry through the streets, prop their rickety ladders against the posts, warble their way to the tip-top rung, and light the lamps -

a flicker,
a shimmer,
then a fiery light.

They moved all across the village that way, just lighting the lamps. Just doing what they'd always done. Someone in Stevenson's house - his parents or a nurse, I can't remember - asked what the french toast he was so obsessed with outside the window.

And he answered, "It looks like they're punching holes in the darkness."

I don't know if that story is true, but I hope it is. I love the idea of it so much; I think of it every time I see stars. I even think of it when I see the rickety lamplights on my street (that don't so much flicker as just buzz). I think it goes without saying that love is that way, right? Love is fireworks too, of course. And that's the best, when you're swept up in a love that's impossibly beautiful and LOUD and bright. Startling, in the best possible way. But sometimes love is more somber. More like little flickers in the darkness. Quiet love is no less sincere than the loud kind. Sometimes, I think it might be stronger. When we realize that it's possible to love again, even though our hearts will always have fault lines and scars. When we grieve, and mourn ... but somehow dance again too. When we ponder that crazy moment that happens when we're crying over a memory at the same time that we are laughing over a memory. Love is so weirdly-wonderful that way. A flicker, a shimmer, then a fiery light. Every time we're brave enough to love, I think we're punching holes in the darkness.

So thanks for being brave enough to love. Thanks for choosing to respond in love. And thanks for choosing love over hate, and for reminding me to do the same. You people shine so bright it hurts my eyes. I hope your holiday is full of peace and wonder.

All is calm here. All is bright.

Are you home for the holidays yet? Or still finishing up finals and fun stuff? Do you shop at the last minute (like The Rogue Accountant) or are you ready to roll? (And on a serious note, if you're in the middle of some dark days, and there's a way I can pray for you, don't hesitate to holler and let me know.) Happy, happy Christmas to you! 


  1. Yes. After last Friday, things just are darker. It is so sad. And my friends' mom is coming to the end of her cancer battle, this might be her last Christmas, she has six kids, three of which are still very young. It is all dark and depressing, but beautiful too. And Project For Awesome was Monday and Tuesday and that really helped my spirits I must admit.Have a very merry Christmas.

  2. This Christmas has seemed a bit darker. The shooting, my little brother coming up on (that same day) a gruesome car accident and having to be the one to call 911, and the fact that this is my family's first Christmas since my aunt all feels a bit heavy sometimes.

    I feel a bit guilty about the fact that I can celebrate Christmas like normal this year, while so many other people can't. But I'm trying to soak in every bit of this beautiful season. I finished all of my handmade gifts last week and I've just been watching Christmas movies and reading and doing some selfish knitting. :)