“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” — Scrooge, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Charles Dickens
Twenty-Thirteen didn’t go exactly as planned. It was a bit off-center early in the year and wonky throughout. It’s not ending as I would genuinely wish either. Our four adult daughters are at wit’s end with each other over hurts not fully addressed and, therefore, not mended. Wall building. The wall erodes and begins to diminish — and new hurts crop up. New stones to reinforce the wall. It brings to mind Robert Frost’s poem.
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall /…/ on a day we meet to walk the line / And set the wall between us once again./ We keep the wall between us as we go./ To each the boulders that have fallen to each./…we do not need the wall:/ …Before I built a wall I’d ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out,/ And to whom I was like to give offense./ Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…”
— Mending Walls
The speaker in Frost’s poem ponders about “something” that “doesn’t love a wall,” referring to natural forces that batter the wall continuously. Nature doesn’t want the wall there, but the speaker’s neighbor stubbornly insists on repairing and rebuilding the wall. For what purpose the speaker wonders: to keep him out or his neighbor in?
I used to build walls. I was young and alone. Walls were built to keep others, and all the hurt they might bring with them, out. I no longer have any walls. Since having a family of my own, walls haven’t been necessary. I don’t want to keep my family out. I don’t want to keep friends out either. I need them, even when I think I do not. Walls are too much work to keep mended. Better to let them crumble and face whatever comes. Because we may be keeping more out than we realize. Good things. Loving hearts. Souls who need us, even if we think we don’t need them.
I’m pretty sure my heart looks a lot like this. It’s been beat up a lot over the decades. A stitch here. A Band-Aid there. Mismatched patches. But if it’s going to break, really crack wide open, I hope it’s at the end of my life, when my love for my family just can’t be contained anymore. One giant burst, wrapping them in love and binding them close, really close, to each other. I need that. I need to know that my love can keep them together; can help them deal with the pains and bruises and still love each other. Still want to be together. Still want to be vulnerable and touchable to each other. I want them to be able to say, “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you” without pause. Because that’s really all it takes isn’t it? A moment. A pause. A catch of the breath when a rip in the fabric of our lives opens up and someone we love isn’t with us anymore.
So among all the thoughts and wishes and goals I have for 2014, the first is to keep the true meaning of Christmas in my heart every.single.day. I don’t want to allow any of the wackadoodlery and imperfections that weasel into Christmas celebrations in every family to seep into a New Year. Not in my family. Not on my watch. And,hopefully, just maybe, by doing so, I can be a living reminder to others to keep Christmas in their hearts as well — 24/7/365. I know it won’t be easy, but neither is losing weight, or reading more books, or budgeting.
I’ll start by keeping my Susan Branch desk calendar blotter on December 2013 as a daily reminder. (It helps that, due to hitches & glitches, Susan Branch doesn’t have any 2014 desk calendar blotters made anyway.)
And I’ll continue to pray the rosary for my family, as well as friends, because
the Blessed Mother knows what’s in this Mama’s heart.
Blessings, friends. May 2014 be your year.