Christmas – Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle – Plato.

I was putting up my Christmas tree today and unearthing the multitude of Christmas ornaments that my family has accrued over the course of three decades. This year my children were old enough to do the decorating, and under my guidance they did a rather descent job of it. Only one glass ornament was sacrificed to the tree decorating spirits. Last year it was three. It is progress.

The past few years have been a turbulent rollercoaster of emotional survival, spiritual strength, and painful growth for me. Last year I cried as I decorated my tree. Each ornament was a painful thrust into my heart of what could have been, what was and what had passed. I cried a little this year too as I looked at the ornaments. As my children gleefully decorated they examined each ornament as if it were the first time they had seen it. This is one of the joys of childhood. Every year a holiday is a new experience until too may holidays pass and then it just becomes a yearly chore. They have childlike exuberance, and I am grateful for their oblivious natures. They don’t really sense or feel things other than their own desires and needs. That is a blessing.

All this brings me back to Plato’s quote. Even though I have experienced pain these past years, I haven’t suffered major losses in my life. My parents are alive, my in-laws are alive, and my children are healthy. Everything on the grand surface of things is relatively stable. I can’t help but think of how hard the holidays are for people who have suffered corporal loss of a loved one. I lost a friend this year to cancer. He was only 44. I can’t comprehend how painful each memory that each ornament, or each holiday ritual will reverberate through his widow and two young boys. During this holiday season people are going to be reeling from pain that they didn’t even know was still throbbing within them like a foul uninvited guest. I can imagine some people will be angry, some people will be sorrowful, some people will be depressed, some people will be suffering in ways that they would not wish on their worst enemy. The holidays have a way of simultaneously bringing joys and sorrows because of their ability to mark time in suspended moments.

So, please be patient and kind during the holidays. Even to the rude and moronic; for everyone is fighting a hard battle that the rest of us don’t know anything about.

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