Christmas is approaching. The signs are all there. We’ve been here before. Familiar tunes flow from department store speakers and often from our own lips; garland and gifts take over guest rooms and closets; yoga classes and movie dates are postponed in lieu of shopping expeditions hunting for perfect presents and food for feasts. We organize tree-trimming gatherings, and climb rickety ladders retrieving lights, ornaments and stockings; we watch Miracle on 34th street for the 34th time as we tie ribbons and bows around foiled packages. We often spend money we don’t have in pursuit of an ideal nestled into our memories leftover from Christmases past. Now, let me be quick to add, I LOVE CHRISTMAS. When I contemplated converting to Judaism in my former marriage, I was perfectly willing to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and spend the day fasting in quiet contemplation on Yom Kippur. However, giving up Christmas was out of the question. But, just for the sake of this exercise, try imagining a different kind of holiday, one that might not feel as harried. What would your ideal holiday look and feel like? Over the next couple of weeks Be Brave. Lose the Beige will be posting a series of tips for celebrating the holidays. I also encourage you to share your own tips. We could all use a little help with the frenzy of the holiday festivities. Be on the lookout for the first tip. (Spoiler alert- Tip No. 1- “Color Your Christmas”)
We flew from Orlando yesterday through Miami to the Dominican Republic. We are staying in Punta Cana at a resort in an area that appears to be an emerging enclave for American tourists. I'm sitting on a wrap around balcony. Tumbled marble tiles and mustard colored walls begin in the foyer and spread into a huge bathroom, walk-in closet, small kitchen, bedroom with two sets of French doors, and ultimately to a beautiful patio. We face east so the morning sun rises before our early awakening eyes welcoming the day. The sound of rustling fronds from the skinny bendable sable palms and the lapping of the Caribbean waters soothe a jangled spirit. My heavily-ladened spirit accompanied me to this tropical place with its sultry 82 degree humidity. My husband and I have been invited here to celebrate the 60th birthday of a dear friend. We planned this get away months ago, not realizing at the time how desperately we would need the escape. We thought we had given up a research business we owned for more than 30 years. But a governor's race, an Ohio ballot initiative and a few legislative races found their way to our cell phones and computer screens. We formerly conducted our business in a real office with admin staff and analysts. Those accouterments were long gone so we found ourselves up at all hours advising candidates and analyzing cross tabs. Our house resembled a paper factory, sheets of data scattered across two floors. A dose of sadness interjected itself into our work frenzy. Someone near and dear discovered an unexpected pregnancy. Equal parts of joy and terror co-mingled reactions to the news, closely followed by peaceful acceptance and even excitement. At 12 weeks came the loss of not just the baby but the hopes and dreams accompanying it. The sickening grief caught me by surprise considering the ambivalence of the initial reaction. I'm realizing spirits must be porous because I'm beginning to feel the ocean breezes penetrate my person and lift my spirits, for which I’m very grateful.