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.
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.