Celebrating … Anyway

By Mary Lou Sanelli

This is how the season found me at the beginning of this month: determined not to let my November disappointment crush my December spirit. I am not going to spend the next four years this way. I am not going to begin each day by lying in bed, wondering what on earth happened, not having shopped for a single present for the people I love, not having thought about a single present, wrapped them, made them beautiful.

I understand that not everyone will agree with me, but to anyone who harbors a little resentment, I have to say, I’m with you, and leave it at that.

Except, I can’t leave it at that. Because there is a heavy sadness that sets in for some of us when the future feels too dated, too narrow, too some-thing … and not only sadness, but weirder kinds of behavior that are difficult for anyone who is not disappointed to understand, let alone feel compassion for.

Take this morning: Normally, I defy all household chores until after I write. Today I folded the laundry before going anywhere near my office, thinking, wait, shouldn’t the candidate who wins the popular vote win the office? It’s the simplest fairness, right?

So I picked up my pile and threw it against the wall. After staring at the mess, I refolded it. A ridiculous waste of time, maybe, but a good way to blow off a little steam.

A friend of mine said, “Unfortunately, there’s no way out of this, so I’m giving everyone alcohol this year.”

And a few weeks ago, after a terrific meal and even more terrific wine, the host said something that, to my horror, made me burst into tears. And I mean burst. Then I spoke in a tone that held a great deal of passion but mostly it reflected my fears and confusion. I blamed his decision not to vote for all that ailed me. Here’s what it was: a feeble try at putting my pain somewhere, and a night I already regret.

My response to big disappointments has always been to get as far away as possible. But the subtle joys of the season have pushed up through my letdown. Even if I don’t feel like celebrating, they do.

I have my friend Lori to thank. She is serious about the holidays. She will not just fling a strand of twinkly lights over a tiny potted pine from Safeway and call it a day. She’s a decorating geek. As soon as I’m in the door, I always think: One person’s overdone is someone else’s “just getting started.” And this: I’m so happy Lori does all this, that she bothers. What amazing good luck it felt like to be invited to her home again, to tell all the funny stories one or the other of us probably told last year, but who cares?

Now what?

Luckily, in a few weeks, maybe months, my sadness will ease.

Then, like the holiday season, it’ll be over.

And when it’s over, it’s over. I wouldn’t dare predict the precise moment, but what will likely happen is, upon waking, I’ll feel the crystal clear sensation of simply feeling thanks for the good in the world.

Mary Lou Sanelli is an author whose latest book is A Woman Writing. When not working as a literary speaker on the Mainland, she lives in Honolulu. For more of her work, visit marylousanelli.com.

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