I have been having a wonderful holiday, with my daughters around me and the house full of colored lights. Last weekend we gathered with so many friends in San Francisco and celebrated the Solstice in style. Two days later Jojo turned 16, the next night my family came up for a lovely Christmas Eve dinner, and of course yesterday was Christmas.
For the record, I don’t believe that being Pagan means we can’t celebrate whatever other holidays we please. In fact, one of the blog posts I started but never completed this year introduced my new rule of thumb: you should claim as yours the religion that you swear the most in. Which means I must have at least three religions, because who can resist an occasional “oy gevalt!” and a “Jesus f*@k!” along with the “oh my Gods!” and all the secular ones, too?
But I digress. The strange thing about this holiday is how the highs and lows have all been mixed in with each other. Usually there is a big high followed by a day or two of lows, and the season progresses on its teeter-totter until January comes and we’re onto the next thing. But this year the highs and lows have been both extreme and simultaneous.
For example, I was in the living room watching Lyra and Jojo decorate a fabulous birthday cake on Tuesday. They were being hilarious together as usual, and I was enjoying their banter, the music they’d chosen for the occasion (Nina Simone), and the opportunity to just sit and read email after a day of running around. In my email was an update about the mother of a dear friend who had just been diagnosed with stage four cancer. The update was that chemo was not going to work and her prognosis was for weeks, not years or even months.
The last time I had seen her was when I went to Grass Valley a year ago for my friend Darcy’s memorial. So then I had both of those sorrows floating around in my heart as I watched the cake take shape in the kitchen and my daughters, so full of life, taking pleasure in each other’s company.
Today is the anniversary of Darcy’s death. I have held her family in my heart all day, as Lyra and Jojo helped me prep two rooms for painting tomorrow. It is a project I have been wanting to do for months, yet another step in making this house my home and embracing my new life. I don’t think the girls fully understand how much it means to me to have their help with this. It has been such an exhausting year and I have reached my limit of what I can do alone. But by the end of the day tomorrow Jojo’s bedroom and bathroom will be painted new, vibrant colors, and a load will be lifted from my shoulders.
Is it just middle age, this cacaphony of good and bad all mixed in together? Is it the times we’re living in? Not enough fiber in our diet? Or just the inevitable counterpoint of our myriad life experiences, of which there is surely more to come?
I am ending this year with more questions than answers. I am genuinely curious and hesitantly optimistic about the year to come, and ready to greet it with hard work, determination, humor and a little grace. Especially if it is as full of great friends and loving family as this one has been. If anything, this crazy life has made me more committed to living every day as fully as I can. And here to remind us just how good that can feel, and sound, is the late, great Eartha Kitt. (This is not the best video quality, but just listen to that voice!)