Tomorrow night when I see him, my grandpa will likely ask if there are any men in my life, and I’ll probably get cute and tell him I have too many men in my life. We’ll have this conversation – or some variation on it – with the classic Thomas smirk and mischief in our eyes, because it’s just our thing. I won’t come away from that conversation with any pangs over the men I’ve lost this year to broken relationships or the man who just isn’t here yet; I’ll just be grateful to have a grandpa with whom I share a similar sense of humor and can joke around.
Listening to Pandora’s generic Christmas radio station a few weeks ago, I realized something: too much of our view of this holiday focuses on what is missing, and not enough highlights the joy of the advent of a Savior who satisfies the world’s deepest needs and longings. Too often, I focus on who was here last year and isn’t this year, traditions that haven’t been carried forward, who might be here in years to come and isn’t yet this year, traditions that I will pioneer with the man with whom I spend the rest of my life and our kids,… Too often, I focus on what Christmas is supposed to look and feel like, and not its reality. And I was about to go there again this year.
This is, after all, the first Christmas I have ever spent without my parents, and the fewest of my siblings. I did, after all, just break up with a man who is determined to make walking away as rough as possible. I have, after all, recently been released from the call that brought me where I am, though not from the location, which was never on my list of places to live, but is home and will remain home in this season nonetheless. I am, after all, single and singular.
And yet, Christmas is here. And what I found this year was that I wanted to enjoy Christmas, not have a Christmas heartbroken over everyone and everything missing.
So I deleted the generic Pandora Christmas station as Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You played for the umpteenth time, and created a customized station with traditional carols instrumentalized and sung by the great musicians and choirs of the world. Carols that herald the joy of the coming of a Savior who alone satisfy the world’s deepest needs and longings. I lit a candle. I took a bubble bath. I buttered myself up in lotion. I shimmied around my apartment listening to my Meghan Trainor station on Pandora. I watched Christmas movies. I cooked. I journaled. I prayed. I released things, and was released from things. I went for a walk when it snowed. I was loved and taken care of by people who are here. I was able to love and take care of some people. I met new people. I went to a Christmas program.
I savored and enjoyed every single moment.
The only point I wished someone or somebody was there was when my car battery died this past weekend, and that was short-lived, because as soon as I had met the people I was ordained to meet, everyone and everything I needed was there.
Overall, there has been no sense of anything being missing.
In fact, I’ve discovered this is how I must live every day, not just at Christmas: savoring and enjoying every single moment because nothing is missing.
There is awe and wonder listening to the greatest songs about the Greatest Person performed by the greatest musicians, walking through eddies of giant snowflakes, climbing a mesa and having a three-sixty view for miles. There is peace in a candlelit room with my pen and a journal, in a bubble bath, in the many still and silent nights after days I thought would tear out my beating heart. There is joy in music and dancing around because and not caring, in watching cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies, in looking through old pictures and stories and letters and cards and journals. There is grace in the day-in-and-day-out cooking and cleaning and journaling and praying, in the mini-meltdowns and full-on-meltdowns and breakdowns, in letting go and being let go. There is love in coworkers taking care of cars and apartments and bringing breakfast and sharing jokes and singing names, in a neighbor’s greeting with a big smile and talking like old friends now because of a shared experience, in a church mother coming up in the middle of a service and because it’s the only time quiet enough to hear each other.
There are more places to find wonder and peace and joy and grace and love than we often know, and the more we discover that, the dissatisfaction that comes from feeling something is missing will lesson. It won’t matter who is or isn’t there, or what we are or aren’t surrounded by, because we become satisfied in the satisfying things, and nothing can take them from us.
I may get a few questions about my single status this weekend, some of them probably tongue-in-cheek, some of them probably not so much. As in years past, I don’t have a list of reasons why, but I can honestly assure the askers that nothing is missing. I am savoring and enjoying every bit of my life. I’ll keep savoring and enjoying it whether my family is here or there, whether I’m in a relationship or heartbroken, whether I’m there or here, whether I’m in a tribe or one in a million. That’s a part of me that’s absolutely unchangeable.