December 25, 2009
par·a·dox (noun) etymology: Latin paradoxum, from Greek paradoxon, from neuter of paradoxos contrary to expectation, from para– + dokein to think, seem
As a literary term: paradox, a statement that initially appears to be contradictory but then, on closer inspection, turns out to make sense.
Life does not do us the courtesy of avoiding Christmas where sickness, death, & other unhappinesses are concerned. I’d need more than one hand to count the friends who are dealing with some really shitty business as I type this. Families are unkind to each other. Parents die, slowly, painfully. Even losses decades-old pinch and scrape like new.
And there are points of light: the sound of neighborhood kids testing out their new tricycles and bicycles with abandon, the smell of the Christmas tree, the stories your father-in-law tells, the feel of yeast dough between your fingers and the satisfaction of it rising in a buttered bowl, just as it’s supposed to.
Surrounded by people but feeling utterly alone. Happy to be on vacation but befuddled by the free time. Knowing the holidays aren’t really about “stuff” but coveting it nonetheless. Accustomed to indulging every whim & desire, but relenting when the family’s movie choices do not match your own. Feeling down in the holiday dumps, then feeling like an obnoxious spoiled brat because, you know, your life is REALLY GOOD.
We humans are complex beings, full of paradoxes which make themselves especially apparent as the year winds down to a close. I find myself tangled up in thought—desire, confusion, nostalgia, regret. I could easily paralyze myself with the attempt to figure it all out, but instead I think I shall paint my fingernails red, sneak some leftover ham out of the fridge, make myself a cup of really good hot chocolate. Then sit in a chair and read a book. Call my mama and tell her that I love her. Think of my father and cry.
We’re not going to get it all figured out today, or probably ever. Let’s do our best to be good to each other (and ourselves) in the meantime. Merry Christmas, ya’ll.