As you may have observed if you read this regularly, or at least my wine post two weeks ago, I have an appreciation for language and piecing words together to precisely convey what I’m thinking. A few weeks ago, attempting to draw the congregation’s attention to the true meaning of this Advent and Christmas season, my pastor did this so well that I chuckled out loud in the middle of his homily. Describing all of the materialism and chaos of the season, he commented that “none of it is Christmas. It has nothing to do with the Love represented in the manger in Bethlehem, the Light entering into our darkness … All of it is noise … it’s just Winter Bacchanalia … It’s not Christmas at all.” … He’s right of course…
… And, yet, there’s more to it too. … Yes. I’m guilty. I’ve let my tension levels elevate with holiday gift and decor stresses. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t annoyed much of this past week to not yet have my Christmas tree. But, when my boys finally got home with it yesterday, watching them (men now) as they worked together to get it set up and straight, collaborating with me around solutions rather than just disdaining my poor taste and disregard for tradition in the new lights I’d ordered on Amazon, I actually felt a twinge of the “reason for the season.” And after decorating the tree with Mindy and laughing and memory sharing over the ornaments that seem (after several of my kids trips to the attic) to be permanently lost, it felt, in fact, like it’s meant to – Peace and Joy coming forth from the chaos, Light in the darkness (I’d really been feeling blue all day), “what’s real underneath all of the noise”, a gift of love – exactly what Christmas, and Hanukkah as the season of lights, are really all about.
Last summer my dear close friend from the beach in Westhampton received terrible health news and then an immediate associated crisis. I know, when you think “Hamptons,” you don’t typically envision human people impacted by suffering. “Generosity”, “charity”, and “love” are not likely the first words to pop in a word association either. But underneath whatever does come to mind are real people, real suffering, and Real Love in the sharing in and carrying of others pain. I was right in the middle and lived it firsthand, behind the mirage of perceptions of the glitz, allure, and summer bacchanalia of the Hamptons, I experienced a very real and deep oasis of Love, and so did my friend, as well as our entire beach community that came together like a family. It was very powerful, inspiring, uplifting, even joyful, alongside very real suffering.
Two weeks ago, I was asked to join a planning meeting for a spring charity gala where I’ve been invited to speak to highlight my book and share some of my story. The organization is Larchmont Friends of the Family, and from a superficial vantage you might question whether my time and message could be leveraged better towards a cause without another wealthy and glamorous town’s name in it. But my story is relevant to their mission, which, put simply, is to comfort families in the community who are suffering crises of health or tragic loss. In the aftermath of Adam’s death our family was a beneficiary of their goodness, so I fully understand the impact. I will never forget the meeting in the diner, when asked how they could help, my pride and pain blocked me from thinking of anything, and so the question was rephrased. “On top of the obvious, what are practical things that weigh on you the most right now?” That reframed question was so crucial, enabling me to share very real and practical needs, which were met by the generosity of people in my community providing a variety of meaningful sustaining supports to my family over the next several months. Unless you’ve lived it, you can’t truly understand the comfort in looking out your window as someone puts a dinner made with the greatest care and detail into a cooler on your front porch, without ringing the bell so to protect your privacy; the warmth in your recognition of that person you’ve seen walking in town, or in the grocery store or coffee shop – someone you may never have even spoken to … and how all of it can make you feel less alone. And while “less alone” may sound simple, it’s actually critical, because the loneliness in grief is as brutal as the sadness.
So, how’s this connected with the reason behind the season?
Well, this week, in the midst of end-of-the-year freneticism at work, last minute shopping, beating myself up over who or what I forgot, long lines in the store, more cars on the road, parties, and everything else that encompasses Winter Bacchanalia Bedlam (Jeez, I love that phrase), I’m going deeper … to my blog’s tagline, “what’s real underneath all the noise.” I’m committed to acknowledging, feeling, and sharing the Great Love behind the baby in the manger, and seeing the true Light within the flames in the candles on the Menorah….
…noting that within the added holiday chores of decorating and cookie-making lie a priceless gift in the cherished experience of sharing them with my kids,
… instead of getting caught up unconsciously in spinning holiday stress while I’m stuck in traffic, picking up the phone for a deliberate holiday catch-up with a friend, maybe my summer Hamptons friend who’s still confronting her illness (with her own great love and joy),
…and in being more charitably mindful (rather than just tax return conscious) in end-of-year giving, and among the other important causes, remembering a group of “Larchmont ladies”, real women (of course, men too) driven by true generosity – and Love and Light – bringing comfort to my neighbors who are suffering right here where I live.
To learn more about Larchmont Friends of the Family or make a holiday or end of year donation to support local neighbors in need visit their website. http://www.larchmontfriendsofthefamily.org/
3 thoughts on “More than Winter Bacchanalia”
We have been beneficiaries of the Larchmont friends of the families too. A beautiful loving group which helped my daughter in time of a great health crises and saved me too from excessive worry and the need to do everything for her and her family. Gif bless them. 💕
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Thank you Naomi!
LFOF flies under the radar to protect people’s privacy during rough times. The more we can get the message out, the stronger we are. We are all in this together!
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Thanks for the reminder my friend! ❤️🎄
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