Gifts overflowed beneath the tree this morning. The stockings were stuffed to the gills. Bites were taken out of cookies and carrots. It was magic in the making.
The boys had a wonderful Christmas. Santa, Mom and Dad, Grammy and Noni, Uncle Bob, and the Team Tony Foundation were all extremely generous. We shared an amazing Christmas dinner with four generations of Gilkeys, and we will have Christmas Part Two up in Gainesville with Mimi and Aunt Sarah and her family tomorrow. New toys and discarded bows are still scattered throughout the house. Signs of abundance and our countless blessings are everywhere.
And for most of the day, I was a complete wreck.
My emotions were on overdrive from the starting gate. Everything seemed to just pour out of me, for better or worse. After the boys finished unwrapping their gifts this morning, I took a long nap. It helped a little, but I still felt the tears waiting just behind my eyes. Taking the annual photograph of the boys in front of the Christmas tree was one of the best moments for me. The tears that came then were filled with gratitude. Not all of them would be.
It was as if the emotions of this entire year swirled through me in a single day. I wasn’t expecting it. Sure, I was expecting the warm and sparkly Christmas feelings, the gratitude, the pride. I wasn’t expecting the anger, the sadness, and then, the guilt. These feelings came uninvited to my sparkly Christmas party. Any little thing seemed to stir me up. I cried when I saw photographs from last Christmas come up on my social media feed. Benjamin had leukemia in those pictures, and I had no idea. I cried when I learned that some folks didn’t get their Christmas cards from us. I cried after I talked to my daddy, just because I heard his voice. I cried at the thought of waking up on Christmas morning once our kids are grown up, even though they were right in front of me, and I should have been rooted in the present. And I cried at how beautiful this year has been, and how healthy Benjamin looks, and how huge Banyan’s heart is, and how sometimes I just don’t feel worthy of being chosen to shepherd them through this.
We came home from Kathy and Gana’s house, our bellies and arms full, and I knew what I needed to do. I grabbed all of the boxes and the tissue and the wrapping paper and took them to the backyard, put them in the fire bowl, and lit a match. The flames were quick and gratifying. I imagined them cleansing us of all of the negativity that has threatened our peace this
day year. I felt completely and utterly exhausted, to the core. I looked up at the full moon (it’s the Full Moon in Cancer tonight, the irony is not lost on me), and vowed to move forward. I have work to do. I have thanks to give.
My exhaustion subsided, and when I came inside from the fire, I felt happiness regain its hold on my heart, and energy come back to my body. The boys were excitedly playing with their new toys. The dogs were grateful for new treats. The mess in our house was a beautiful mess. I began making a double batch of soup to deliver to two new mamas tomorrow, stirring in hope and love for their babies. Tucking my children into bed felt like a privilege.
Sometimes the beauty and the pain and everything in between knocks me over. But at the end of the day, I am grateful for the ability to feel them both, and feel them deeply.