I think it’s fair to say that I live a life of sufficient privilege that my kid doesn’t want for anything. Sure, he’d like to have his own tablet loaded with games. And he might prefer new clothes and shoes over hand me downs. And he might choose different foods… but on the needs vs wants spectrum, his needs are attended to. As are mine.
Which is why I find the weird feeling of not enoughness I get in the lead up to Christmas to be so unsettling.
I feel this weird urge to compensate him, under the tree, with everything he doesn’t get, everything he’s ever missed out on. I want to make up for all the birthday parties and play dates he missed through Covid, for the grandparents and cousins our dysfunctional families didn’t supply him with, the lack of sibling, the burning planet, the loss of innocence. Somehow, I can live with all these things throughout the year, but at Christmas time, I feel as though I need to make it all right.
I’m not going to.
I have managed to connect enough dots to know that it is our wounded longings that tend to power our most damaging choices.
But it’s still there. Alive.
I found, when I experimented with sobriety last year, that the best way to drink less alcohol was to do more of some thing else – more oxymels and ginger bugs, more self care, more acknowledging and identifying all the longings and unmet needs.
It was so much better for me to have something to turn towards, than to just try and turn away from an old coping mechanism or uncomfortable realization.
So too here.
It can feel like a lament, for all the things I wish I had but don’t… (innocence is kind of top of the list – as my partner and I said last night to each other, when’s the last time you did something that felt totally carefree?) Instead of lamenting, I try to turn it around and ponder: What is it that I’m actually longing for?
What is my longing?
That actually becomes quite a fun and juicy inquiry… I long for:
Seasonal ritual. Songs to sing. Community gathering. To assess and acknowledge the year and its harvest and yield.
Traditions, of delight.
And so what can I do to tap into those things, or to support them?
This week, we’ll make gingerbread dough and over the holidays turn it into a gingerbread house. It’s an ongoing tradition. And I love it.
Do less “obligatory” festive stuff.
Maybe I’ll make a solstice playlist, because I miss carolling but I’m rethinking a lot of my beliefs and how accommodating I’m willing to be towards things I don’t align with… so, search out some new seasonal songs.
I’m putting together all the lightly used things we’ve outgrown and getting ready to host a table at the forthcoming Sunday December 19 Mutual aid Treasure and Trade Community Fair.
And re-reading this post from my favourite online therapist, Jake Ernst, about enoughness. Good enough is good enough. Not everything has to be extravagant, thrilling or novel, or perfect, or instagram able, or a magazine spread.
As my beautiful yoga teacher said the other week, as she coaxed us into some gently twists, a twisting pose is an invitation to ask, what do I want to turn towards? and who am I turning into?
Turning towards enoughness. Celebrating that.