Holidays are for sharing.
They are moments when we come together and share ourselves; stories we shouldn’t forget, principles we value, relationships that formed us, beliefs that strengthen us, connections that feed us, people that we love.
It is this sharing in a moment out of time that makes holy days and holidays very special and important to our deep humanity.
The simple milestones, like the summer’s first burned hot dog of the season or the ritual of leaving flowers at a grave, offer ways to honour the cycles of life, the bits that stay the same as we continue to grow, develop and take on new phases.
For me, though, that sharing doesn’t happen anymore. When it used to, I was the one who had to make the events, prepare the dinners, create the echoes, but now, alone, well, the creations for one don’t have the resonance.
This week they celebrated the anniversary of the film “Love Actually.” Christmas was less than six weeks after my father died, less than two weeks after my mother died. I deliberately found a copy of that film to put on, a simple way to pay respects to the many facets of love. What I remember, though, was my sister’s friend, the only other at the table, dismissing the film with prejudice, saying that it was bullshit, that love was bullshit, a loser’s game. He kept saying that I must, as a guy, like these fights, and I just knew that my broken feminine heart would never be seen.
Now, on this holiday alone, I think of a professional I met last week who promised they wouldn’t be freaked out by my writing, because they saw me as sharp and valuable, but who never followed up and when I reached out dropped only a two line polite response. Nope, freaked.
I know that I could attend a public kind of event, a lunch at the senior centre or a town parade, but I also know that I wouldn’t be visible there. Sure, I could engage and affirm the sharing of others, but what I share, well, too much crackpot for them, too much crap for me.
The hermetic life feels like destiny, being marked for it when I had to learn to play alone as a child, without safety in the midst of a narcissistic fury. Today, I may understand the reasons for that tempest, may have context, but that doesn’t make up for the loss.
“My other clients come in and tell me why people around them are doing bad things, but you are unique in going on to explain why they have no choice but to take those actions,” a psychologist told me thirty years ago. I was taking care of others, even others who hurt me, from my earliest days.
I share, I share, I share, but what I don’t do is expect people to listen, understand, engage and mirror what I share. They have their own challenges.
On a holiday, though, on so many holidays, for so long, well, that leaves me isolated and depleted. I can’t even sneak the text of a table grace that I knew my parents wouldn’t understand to my sister so I can at least feel I shared something, even if she never really reflected what I offered.
Communities are too often formed by rejection, defending boundaries by creating alienation. How can they be the in crowd unless someone else is on the outs, frozen into Siberia for not being one of us? Returning the gifts that I struggled so damn hard to own, the awareness of connection, compassion and love, leaves me battered and bled dry.
I know how to be alone, but holidays, well, they are for sharing. Sharing was never easy in my family, never easy for a queer little kid like me, but now it feels almost impossible, and any hope of that changing, no matter how much I try and find space, well, desiccated. It’s not like I have less to share as I age, or that I have less need, rather I become more spiky and crenellated, more difficult for others.
But it’s a holiday, and while pulling marked down bratwurst from the freezer and cooking them with a tin of 2015 dated sauerkraut may be nice, well, with no one to share them with, no one to make the potato salad, ripples stop dead at the rotting garbage on the kitchen counter.
Holidays are for sharing, sharing everything from food to chatter to love, sharing all along the axes of intimacy, the breadth and depth of spirit, the celebration of milestones and journeys.
I am who I am and that’s not going to change drastically in the autumn of my life. Being the same person, though, and expecting different responses from others, well, that seems like a bit of lovely, wishful, insanity, the kind that just opens the way for more heartbreak.
So I share, but without expectation of even the simple amenities of human contact.
May you value your sharing, those holidays and holy days that are time out of time for connection and caring, full of nourishing presence, food and love. It may be easy to take them for granted, to skip over them like banal obligations, but when they stop happening, when they never really happened, you will miss them.
This I do know.