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A Time for Holiday Joy, Connection, Warmth … and Pain?

James Anthony Ellis
Legacy Editor

Oh yes … the holidays.

That time of the year. The TV specials, the jingles, the warmth of family, the glow of lovely gatherings, hearty meals, cookies, pies, gifts for giving and receiving. The joy, the connection, the legacy…

… and the pain.

Pain?

What? This cannot be. The holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, etc. – are times for celebrations of heart, family, love and light.

That is the promise, is it not? I mean take a gander at a Rockwell painting, and you’ll see all you need to see. Some big bird offered up from a couple elderly relatives while the hungry onlookers smile broadly? Or ole St. Nick leaving behind some well-deserved toys for all the good girls and boys.

Or take a look at the top entertainment dedicated to the Christmas cheer – “It’s a Wonderful Life” (well at least at the end), “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” (But did give it back again), and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” (and that perfect specimen of a female Clarice).

Nothing but happiness.

Ultimately.

That is the expectation, is it not?

I guess it depends. I have definitely enjoyed the times in the past, wherein late December brought a lot of happiness and celebration, and family get-togethers signified such deep connections.

But that is not the way it is for all people, who may or may not have families with which to connect.

And that may not be the way it is for me.

At my age now, I have both experiences during these times – a bittersweet embrace of both the highs and lows.

Highs in opening presents, such as cool shoes, snazzy shirts, whale watching tickets, and Miami Dolphins and LA Kings hockey memorabilia. Highs in the memories of all the good times with my original family – so excited to get up at 3 am to see the glowing gifts under the illuminated tree. Highs in the memory of having Hennessy our pooch tearing up the wrapping on the gifts… everyone’s gifts.

Lows in the distance experienced with friends presently unfriended by some silly miscommunication or belief system. Lows in the loss of certain freedoms once commonplace in a free society. Lows in the absence of my mother and my father at this time, as both have passed by this holiday 2021. Lows in the remaining family members – sisters, nephew, nieces – having moved to the East Coast during this past year. Lows in not having Hennessy for the first time this holiday.

The desire is the same at the root of both experiences. If I drill down from both perspectives – the painful and the joyful – I find a common denominator: this ancient need to be unified and connected to the family of man and woman… to the family humanity. Oneness. A gift of perceiving all as brothers and sisters, and giving and receiving at that level, in the highest form of relationship.

And that is the prayer… at this holiday time… is it not?

The promise of the celebration, the expectation of family reunion, the prayer for the light’s return. All shall come to be… ultimately.

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