Christmas, 2018

18 Dec

Merry Christmas, 2018

If Christmas was “A Christmas Carol,” Scrooge would be redeemed and Tiny Tim would be healed.

If Christmas was “A Wonderful Life,” George Bailey is touched by an angel.

If Christmas was a Hallmark Channel movie, love is found, the Christmas factory / inn is saved, child’s parents are reunited, a lonely woman finds love, the magic of Christmas. Better still, the female star wins the ginger bread competition and falls in love! Two for one.

Its actually rather frustrating. Christmas can hardly live up to the promises of books, t.v. and the movies. It hardly ever works out in the end.

Reality requires us to understand that although the Christmas spirit can be carried in the hearts of all, it doesn’t mandate a miracle. Its simply Christmas; the day of comfort and joy. But, still just one day. And, no day is certain, no day is set aside for the foibles of life to be at bay. Therein lies the conundrum – unrealistic expectations, a/k/a, a “Christmas Miracle.” For me this Christmas brings home that point more than ever.

In my own little world, there is imbalance and uncertainty. I can battle life’s demons with my meditative kata and other spiritual releases. My warm, weathered comfortable “sweater” of kata helped through my recent loss of a job (the garden center was sold and closed). I can shrug off such foibles. But, that only works for me, not those around me. They battle each and very day until Christmas and each day thereafter. One is denying, but nonetheless battling addiction. Another is their partner, the coddling enabler. One is tethered to an oxygen device due to a short lifetime of smoking. Another faces major brain surgery immediately after Christmas. And yet another wrapped in a burdensome blanket weaved from the loom of possible recurring cancer.

Unlike Scrooge, these are shadows of the present and my actions now and in the future cannot alter them. I can; however, make Christmas as enjoyable as it can be for those affected. For them, Christmas is a milestone – they and their burdens can make it to that day. The rest, well like all living creatures, is unknown. Its like I say – One day (Christmas) – One Lifetime. Ichi-nichi Issho (One Day, One Lifetime).

Once again, five years after the Christmas that almost wasn’t (2013), I am reminded that for many, Christmas is but a goal. An uncertain milestone. That year two weeks before Thanksgiving my wife was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. An immediate eleven hour surgery and weeks being bedridden, we looked forward to chemotherapy in the New Year. But, oh wait, there’s Christmas before that. So with a three foot artificial table top tree (with a depleted immune system, my wife couldn’t have a real tree) we celebrated Christmas, one day, that we had each other – and some hope for what was to come.

So for each of those in my sphere, I first hope they make it to see the day. Thereafter, knowing that the chance is slim to none, dare I wish for a Christmas “miracle?” Dare I wish that the addict hits rock bottom; that level of readiness to accept that “Yes, there is a problem.” Dare I wish that the enabler understands that addiction exists notwithstanding their refusal to see it. Is wishing for a Christmas miracle in a successful brain surgery too bold a wish? Can another gain the miracle of peace of mind? Maybe.

I do believe one thing though. That if there is a chance for a Christmas miracle, the odds of the miracle being worthy are greater when it is asked for someone other than yourself. It should be selfless. A wish where your sole fulfillment comes in knowing any person deserved and got a break. Nothing big, just a plain old break in their favor. One. A chance.

So as I sit here typing this blog, I look at little Chloe’s Christmas dress that hangs in her memory by the fireplace.

Maharet sits by the Christmas tree not sure what this “invader” is doing in “her” living room.

I watch the lights on our Christmas tree. They start off white, fade to off, then relight in multi-colors, then repeat. They seem to capture the light of life, sometimes dimmed circumstances that make the world go dark. But, if you can look through the darkness and battle your way through it, the world will not only once again be light, it will be filled will the colorful palette of gratitude for the day that dawns, again and again. For that’s all we get – one day. One day – One lifetime. And, there’s no guarantee we get that.

And so, we come to my hope for all reading this that your Christmas be merry. Though there may not be a miracle, that’s okay, just take the day for what it is.

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

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