Open letter to our innocent self
December 14, 2016
Dear innocent self,
You roll around in a sea of wrapping paper, surrounded by siblings at home on Christmas morning. You watch the stockings slowly fill everyday and wonder what waits inside the Star Wars container of Princess Leia in your hand-sewn Winnie the Pooh stockings. Even the air seems to sparkle with excitement in the long days of open windows and windy weather leading up to the special day. You look toward Dec. 25 as a time where waking up is filled with unhindered joys.
You have not learned to set low expectations to avoid disappointment yet. You have not rolled out of bed on Christmas morning to share empty conversations with people whose fire dimmed ages before it sucked yours out. You have not seen December as a cardboard cutout of a month that flies by with responsibility and struggle on whose other end lies an uncertain, unstable future. You have yet to decorate your tree for possibly the last time before heading off to a life of your own, wondering if you will even miss the family you may leave behind.
Things get hard. With age comes a sobering wash of truth that dampens the little candles within your eyes. Family can hurt. Holidays do not always appear picture-perfect with peace on earth. Sometimes they are the most restless days imaginable. What you do not have can easily outweigh what you do and gratitude can get shoved in storage containers filled with garland and mistletoe, only to emerge as a limited edition of sunshine-like memories.
The weather can feel eternal, especially here. The heat stays in beating waves, sometimes relenting for a light breeze to slip in on a cloudless afternoon. Eventually you shall see that those dreams of a white Christmas will not come true, at least not here. The closeness you had with the tree’s lower branches shall subside once you grow to place the porcelain ornaments near the top. Your sight shall expand to see beyond the glimmering carols and gingerbread cookies. The magic will fade with Santa. Like slowly awakening from a dream, reality will smother you in its cold embrace.
When we are children, we take things as they are spoken until our experience proves otherwise. When we become adults, we learn to take our experiences as they are until we prove otherwise. You will learn to find a magic that outlasts the smell of pumpkin pie from the kitchen. Struggle shall not cease, but slowly and surely, you will learn to keep your head bobbing above the waves.
Loved ones will have their faults and be broken like you, but being broken together is far more satisfying than being whole alone. When we are perfect, we cannot be vulnerable. Vulnerable and close is far better than put-together and distant . The reaching hands that slowly come to grasp yours tighter with the years shall grow into strong chords that outlast arguments and petty insults. You will learn to tolerate the intolerable for the sake of love and the season. And you will learn to the give generously for the sake of those who gave everything for you. You may even find faith in the old nativity scene that rekindles a dampened soul year in and year out. That has and will stay the only thing that holds the loose ends of my sanity together until this day.
You will grasp that hope is not a one-day event established by presents and people, both of which change constantly. It comes from a personal decision to live each day weighing the haves over the have-nots.
Do not be afraid when the truth settles. You were never alone. And even after the season ends, mercies shall be new for you every morning. There are only better things ahead, little one. Await them with open hands. We are going places, kid.