The Ghosts of Christmas

Christmas Past
She kept staring at it wondering, looking, dreading. It meant more rain. More rain always meant more rain. Why didn’t it stop? Why? Why now? No one needed it. She didn’t want it. She hated it. Her tears were plenty.

So she walked away, leaving it–the reflection, the pain–for another day. There would be other days; she was sure of it. There were always other days. Always. Just like there was always rain.

So, she left.

And it rained.

And she walked.

She walked until she arrived, again.

The water was there, the sun too.
The rain had stopped and she was an entirely different person.
The reflections lying on the ground were beautiful.
She could see them, finally.
She could finally see.

Christmas Present
Copper colored leaves are lining the path and it is unusually warm in Philadelphia. It’s a strange but beautiful Christmas–mostly because of family, and food, and card games I’m roped into playing. Virginia, Philly, Puerto Rico. It’s a new kind of Christmas focused a little less on tradition and more about family, and friends, and the needs of the soul. The New Year will be on an island that’s been home to my mother, and her mother, my father, our cousins. More warmth, and love, and dancing are waiting. Sorry, San Francisco. You’re sitting this one out.

***

It’s the time after Christmas, leading into the New Year, when we’ll be cosied up to Día de Los Reyes in a few too many days. It’s a mix of family and alone time, sleeping and celebrating, warm food and chilled bourbon, dark nights and sprinkled lights. It’s texts and emails, hugs and kisses, and deep down laughter with bright smiles. I’m eternally grateful for all those I get to call family.

***

2015 was about Connection. I tried my hardest to be kind and true, open and vulnerable, smart and cautious, loud and soft. I embraced the contradictions that come with being human and trusted my gut a whole lot more. This year I met my niece on her birthday, traveled with a best friend to Ireland, did another U.S. road trip, backpacked through Croatia, and stood beside my sister on her wedding day. I felt the pangs of failure, loneliness, fear, disappointment, anger, and insecurity. Because those are part of being human too. I made choices based on the people I love. I said yes to late nights and long talks and no to I’m-just-too-busy. Weeks and weekends meant more family, less sleep, plane tickets, layovers, and lots of jet-lag. But 2015 was a gift. It was the year I decided: people first, then everything else.

***

“Stop it. No. You must write. You must write because that’s what you do. And no lawsuit or person or people or money should stop the flow of truth you have to share.” She looked at me with the fire and warmth of a friend–a female friend who knows her power. Because that is what she is–has always been–a woman unapologetically entrenched in her paradoxes, unafraid of the truth. Her favorite book sits on my shelf and her presence reminds me to feel, deeply. We’ve walked through Rome and onto the beaches of California. We’ve told each other secrets and sent letters through the mail. She understands the enormity of connection. It is all art and food and words for the soul, a bending of reality so we can see the world turned on it’s side, shaken, then stirred. It is always good to try on a new perspective, to be open, but hold fast, to tell the truth, and be loud (when needed). They’ve told us not to go places because it is “dangerous” or we are “fragile” and “feel too deeply” and “no one will understand.” But it doesn’t matter if no one will understand. We should tell the truth anyway. And so she said it all with a “Merry Christmas!” and a hug.

Christmas Future

Here then is the list: To record the world as it is. To set down the past before it is all forgotten. To excavate the past because it has been forgotten… To say a new word. To make a new thing. To create a national consciousness, or a national conscience…To record the times through which I have lived. To bear witness to horrifying events that I survived. To speak for the dead. To celebrate life in all its complexity. To praise the universe. To allow for the possibility of hope and redemption. To give back something of that has been given to me…

Possibly, then, writing has to do with darkness, and a desire or perhaps a compulsion to enter it, and, with luck, to illuminate it, and to bring something back out to the light. – Margaret Atwood,  Negotiating with the Dead