Dear Gratitude

Gratitude is forced upon me by the outside world

By people who want to tell me what my life is and isn’t

By people making assumptions about the way I live

About what I have and what I am lacking

When in reality

Nobody knows anything about others

Nobody knows what happened to you except you

Your gratitude comes from within not from a holiday or a relative

You do not need to be thanking the universe all the time

Simply for being alive

Because that life might be full of despair and anguish

And that’s okay

There will be periods of immense thankfulness

And periods of deep anger at the world

They come and go

They are not controlled by a schedule on a calendar

We cannot control the events or the feelings

We can simply live them all.

Dear December,

Christmas is almost here. But this year it’s impossible not to be touched by the suffering the world has gone through and our own individual pain. I think it’s fair to say every human being is struggling with something this year. Accumulated grief from (more than) 12 months of unfortunate events seems to want to spill out all over the pretty decorations and fairy lights. Yet, for the most part we keep it in. We don’t want to ruin all those sparkly decorations or admit that we don’t actually have the appetite for a traditional Christmas dinner. It’s in a strange way both sickening and comforting to watch the Christmas advertisements playing as they always have, and shops still reminding us to buy gifts and indulgent foods, when these are the last things on our mind. These holiday traditions act as a kind of barrier for a couple of weeks as we use them to shield ourselves from all the hurt.

It’s not really the best way to end the year. Instead of letting all our pain out, we are forced to keep it in, even more so than during the rest of the year. What I want to do is sob loudly and bang my fists on the floor like a toddler, but instead I sit quietly and smile and bake cookies and listen to Christmas songs. As if everything is as it should be. Sometimes I’m grateful for the distraction of the busyness of the season, where some days those tasks take up so much time that the sadness recedes a little. But most of the time I find it tedious. I want to acknowledge all we have been through this year, instead of burying it all under a pile of tinsel. If we’re ever going to get the Christmas spirit out from under the grief, that grief has to be exposed and picked through in order to move it and make room for all that the season demands.