love · relationships

An Amazing Christmas

At the end of the evening, my son’s face was beaming and his eyes shining to a degree I don’t know that I’ve seen before. He’s a very happy and enthusiastic kid, but Sunday seemed to propel him to another level.

For the first time in his life, we’d spent Christmas independently of family. I was trusting that enough was available at home. My son, on the other hand, had been nervous about the radical idea of “just us” or of nonbiological tribe.

It was, most definitely, one of the best Christmasses of both our lives.

Some of my favourite moments:

  • finding three wise men and some sheep, each mangled and broken, eating my breakfast the next morning
  • said breakfast, this being leftovers of Christmas night’s incredible feast, courtesy of generous, skilled, and hospitable neighbours
  • hours upon joyful hours with seven friends made just in the past six months, feasting and talking
  • that each person’s dietary needs or preferences were accepted, unquestioned, and supported
  • learning that several of us around the table share the same dream and vision, and that we each have specific skills to bring to its fulfilment
  • realizing that I’m known, via friends and an acquaintance gifting me with exquisite items surprisingly “me”
  • receiving brand new, shiny things in their original boxes, with gift receipts, all inside brand new sparkly paper (I’m returning NONE of these beautiful and relevant expressions of love, but I was delighted that folks felt no personal need for me to keep a given item, that each was given unconditionally, without attachment.)
  • a follow-up email, inviting more connection
  • managing to wiggle out more capacity for simply receiving the incredible bounty offered to me
  • the joy on other people’s faces when they saw my happiness and gratefulness for the gifts (of every kind) they gave me
  • understanding that the gifts I, in turn, bring throughout the year are seen and deeply appreciated
  • witnessing my son’s intense joy
  • all of my child’s Love Languages met, and not only by me
  • countless hugs
  • cuddles with brand new friends
  • our messy home, all strewn with love and play
  • long exchanges of honesty; the sharing of personal stories
  • laughing hard, at our shared foibles and those all my own
  • the opportunity to observe friends’ talents: painting, baking, observing, laying tables, stitching
  • in any given moment, up to five adults—all unrelated to each other, and none of them me—huddled tightly around my son to help him with his new electronic toy

So, yep, I did unexpectedly receive material gifts. And I did indeed love them! I’m very glad some friends decided to make me this or buy me that. I felt utterly infused with love and care. At the same time, so many of my favourite things about this season were nonmaterial. Eye contact. Deep listening. Honest sharing. Time. Noticing. Remembering. Cooking. Laying a table. Sweeping. Touch.

There have been other gifts, too, this season. Hundreds of words exchanged with the delightful and kind Andrew Hallam—understanding and helping me with my internal and external process in relation to my book, and filling me with comfort, hope, and peace. Silence. New opportunities in my community. Snow. Folks buying my book. Fleece. The incredible setting of nature I live within. Coziness. Friends holding hands. Smart, concrete information from forum members in the DIY areas from publishing to investing. Electricity. Copious time at home. Candles. New book reviews. The Mindy Project.

Thank you, all, for your parts in much of this!

Last winter, I wrote in my Google calendar that if I hadn’t found “local family” by Sept 2016, I must go south to find the humans who remain available December through March. By the key date, I had indeed found them. (Or, they had found me.) In a funny coincidence, one such couple—that had previously gone south every winter—reached the same sense at the same time, and was inspired to list their southern home for sale that very month.

Material items help us survive, or help us feel physically comfy, or aid us in our work. Just as important to our survival—and to our desire to survive—is the sense of safety, belonging, and connection that tribe provides.

When I was poor, I needed to find ways to rise materially. But part and parcel of that was finding was to rise relationally: to differentiate who was trustworthy and kind and who was not; to distinguish who had abusive goals and who had altruistic ones; to become comfortable with people who aimed to be “good” and uncomfortable with people who had no such goal; to decline contact with some individuals and to welcome contact with others.

For folks with reasonably straightforward lives, all of this is somehow embedded in the psyche, is intuitive. For the rest of us, it’s a learning curve. A big one. And one well worth riding.

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12 thoughts on “An Amazing Christmas

  1. Joon, I love this post! And I’m so happy for your, and your son’s, wonderful Christmas experience.

    Would you do a post on how you came to find your tribe? And how you came to have the ability to know the good from the bad, in terms of people?

    Oh, even how you came to build or find a sense of community?

    This is your time of Joyful Harvest, but I imagine that there were also seasons of planting, weeding, toiling and even waiting to bring this harvest to fruition.

    May your harvest be plentiful and long, dear one.

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  2. Hi Darcy,

    You are exactly right! This happens to be a time of harvest, and it follows a long stretch of drought, of planting, of hoeing, of cultivating. In my experience, community for free spirits, for independent people, for people intent on living authentically can be precarious.

    I love your idea for possible posts, thank you! I will definitely do them. They will require some mulling, but I will truly enjoy exploring and writing them.

    I think this piece—kind community—is make or break for an abundant life.

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  3. “For folks with reasonably straightforward lives, all of this is somehow embedded in the psyche, is intuitive” I think when we’re in a place where we’ve navigated these hurdles, it makes everything else a little easier to fall into place. This Christmas was the opposite for me, but I learned, and I spoke with my people, and we’re already making sure that next Christmas will be a better experience. Still excited to get the book from the library, and I’m hoping it arrives soon.

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    1. Hey Jen H 🙂 I’m really sorry your Christmas this year was the opposite. That sucks. Christmas can be so hard on so many people that I was even reluctant to post my happy one! But, there’s something to be said for figuring it all out from the ones that don’t work, to make the ones that do!

      So happy to hear you’ve spoken with your people, and that everyone’s on board to make next year’s better. That’s definitely been my strategy (though my people are usually just me, talking to myself, but that too makes magic happen).

      Thanks for requesting the book at your library! I’ll look forward to hearing if it resonates for you.

      Hugs,
      Joon

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      1. I found reading your post helpful because it’s from a non-traditional point of view and practice, which makes it feel hopeful for those of us who have realized that we will never have the ‘perfect traditional holiday with family’ as depicted in so much propaganda during this time of year. I think that’s the painful part. It often feels like a slap in the face. It’s a hurdle to rise above it and say, “No. That’s not what it’s like for me. That’s not my experience.” And also, to muster up the gumption and determination to create what you do want your experience to be.

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  4. Thanks so much for letting me know what felt helpful in that, Darcy.

    I, too, have spent a long time—especially the last few years—grieving that hope for a traditional (yet liberal) experience of family. There’s a lot to be said for freedom, though… For the option and choice to live authentically, even when it means losing a different dream. I know I would rather live genuinely than be restricted by some of the ideas I was raised with, or that some communities require. So, it’s a trade-off, for sure. One I reluctantly yet willingly accept.

    Some other gifts I love in December include Captain Awkward’s online community for people who do not at all feel joyful at that time, and “Blue Christmas” services which honour what it is for the rest of us. I went to those for a good six years straight at one point!

    This round was a very happy one for me, but life ebbs and flows and I anticipate it will continue to do so. I’m really glad lots of us can share honestly when it’s happy AND when it’s sad for us. Both experiences are equally real and valid.

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  5. Joon,
    I read several mentions of Captain Awkward’s site recently. I see that there is the home page with several different sections and a separate forum section. Which have you found helpful? I’m interested in checking this out.

    Thanks!

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  6. Hi Darcy,

    CA is AWESOME. I’ve never looked at its forum, so I just use the blog. Its advice (all on human relating in any given circumstance) is so after my own heart, the advice is excellent yet also very humourously presented, and the blog is very well moderated. Highly recommend! CA graciously invited a guest post from me relatively recently, too. As a long-time reader, I felt grateful and honoured!

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