There is a reason we are warned not to envy others. There are reasons we are told not to compare our self with others. And yet…so many of us do that very thing. As I have said before, I speak for me. Using myself openly as an example. Though I may toss in something I witnessed trying to retain the other individual’s privacy.
We are sitting here now, just a couple days past Christmas. What is supposed to be the most joyful time that is also one of the most sad for many. This year has been one of those sad times for me. Even as I was happy for those celebrating with the joy intended, for me, something was missing. As I scrolled through social media seeing the photos of smiling, laughing, loving the moment families and friends, I felt a sadness, a lack. I allowed envy, to rob me of what should have been. Even though, I know it wasn’t solely envy, but also grief slipping into vulnerable emotions.
I sat here, seeing the photos of the piles of gifts under beautifully decorated trees. Though my tree was and is decorated I think beautifully, this year there was not one gift placed beneath the artificial limbs. I did get my son a couple gifts, nothing like years past but he was remembered. As were my parents and the great nieces and nephews. Small gifts, but the amazing thing to see, was they were still happy with what was received. Even as I wished I could do more, give better. Even as I sat there thinking of the greater quantity and expense of gifts given elsewhere. I felt, inadequate.
It still stings the way I lost my job, even as I believe that I was taken from full time work so I could be with my parents. Which I am forever thankful. I can be here for them, I get to spend time with them, I get something that so many do not. But inside my never shut up conscious reminds me that I had not intended on taking early retirement. I am still capable of working. I should be working and be a productive part of society. If I were working, I would have more money and the ability to give more. More gifts to the family, more to church, more to charities. Going grocery shopping wouldn’t be a nightmare of what is it going to cost me this trip.
My son lectures me on hiding at home, often calling me reclusive. He isn’t wrong. I have a difficult time blending in with people. I have a hard time being a part of something that involves a group of people. Even when I try, my nervousness keeps me wanting to move off to the side and watch enviously from the shadows as others have a grand time. I watch as the other individuality of others is accepted and celebrated and wish silently that mine could be as well. Then I remember trying to be me in school and how that went so I slink back to my corner. School was a long time ago but some memories never fully die.
I could go off more on my own. Leaving the house to spend time doing things. Window shopping, hiking different trails. Taking long drives to any where and no where. Though I know that is not always safe any more. So I sit and view the videos and photos of others spending time with family and friends.
But then, people do leave us. Relationships end and individuals go their separate ways. They have to deal with the possibility of crossing paths at some point. If the split was amiable, that isn’t a problem. If it was not, then hurt, anger, betrayal are all at risk of rising up and causing issues. Then, there is death. A separation that is permanent with no possibility of seeing the other ever again in this lifetime. Whether it is a lingering death or sudden, the pain is very real and never fully goes away. We can be making our way through the day and something will trigger the memories. A word, a song, a sound, a familiar spot, and more, can bring about that ache of loss.
My late husband had a love hate relationship with Christmas. He hated shopping but loved watching his family open gifts. He would get up Christmas morning and move to the end of the couch closest. I would bring him a cup of coffee and then the gift opening would begin. From the very start, we always purchased too much for our son, and that continued up until my husband’s death. This year, that missing part of Christmas seemed stronger, the ache deeper. The longing of all that wasn’t there felt more powerfully than the past few years.
I know how blessed I am, the things I have. We have our home in the country with family land to enjoy. We are protected from elements and harm from less that good intentioned people. We have food and decent clothing. We have transportation. We have family close. My son is here for me, taking care of things I can’t and goading me to do better.
It is not the material things that I am envious over. It is not the possessions and the many gifts that I am jealous. It is watching others be a part of things joyfully. It is watching others gather and spend time enjoying the company of friends. I sit to the side wishing for the ability to say, Yes, I’m my own unique me, and I’m proud of me, take me as I am. I don’t bite. I may make off the wall comments. I may tell bad jokes. I may take a notion to dress in a style of my own. But if you take me as I am, accept the me I have been created to be, you’ll find a trustworthy friend who is there for you no matter what storm may pop up.
And that is what, if I could give a gift, I would offer. That we all find ways to be accepted. That we find within ourselves the ability to accept ourselves and join the world around us. For we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-does-it-mean-to-be-fearfully-and-wonderfully-made.htmlThat we understand that those who have loved ones who have left this life, will face those moments of deep grief. The sadness of loss, the empty chair, the calls that no longer come. We will face them and we will move forward having embraced the moment as one more symbol of the love. That we find an acceptance in life even as we strive to make life better, for ourselves and others.
Christmas has come and gone. We have celebrated the day and the reason. The photos have been and are being shared. Some have already taken down decorations, others in process and still others will wait until the mood strikes and the time seems right. We are in the final week of the year, time is ticking down for this year and ticking up toward the new year approaching. My hope is that this final week is good and the new year better. The gift I wish to offer, is hope and believing in ourselves and the gifts we have within ourselves.