Christmas Morning 12/25/20

This morning is Christmas Day. I am sitting in the loft of my home beneath the skylight and listening to the sound effects of a heavy rainfall. Of course, I have my trusty cup of coffee by my side. The quiet dimness and the warmth of soft Christmas lights around the Christmas tree and the other decorations in my house is peaceful to say the least.
Most of the snow from the previous storm has melted away. And for now, I am alone in a much needed moment of isolation and reflection. For now, I am thinking about an old family tradition that we shared together on all of our holiday gatherings.
The tradition is heartfelt and simple and although this began on Thanksgiving, the tradition to go around the table and express what we are grateful for had eventually moved beyond the traditional Thanksgiving feast and grew to a larger custom, which followed us to every big occasion or family gathering. 

Perhaps I took this tradition for granted. Maybe this is because I was much younger at the time or maybe this is because I never realized how important it is to personally interact with someone.
Maybe I never knew the value of a hug until hugs became dangerous because of course, here we are now in the middle of a pandemic. Social distancing and quarantining is the new custom now.
Come to think of it; — it is unclear to me if we are actually in the middle of the pandemic or near the end or worse, my fears are what if this is still just the beginning? What if we still have more to lose and more ground to cover? 

Therefore, since this is true and since the future is unknown and beyond our control, for now, I will write plainly. Therefore, please excuse the sentiment in my voice. Excuse me when I say that now is the time for us to come together.
Whether we come together figuratively or literally, I would like to see us all come together in some shape or another. I would like to see us find the answers we’ve all been waiting for.
Unfortunately, since this is out of my hands and the lack of control can be disheartening, I think now is a good time to keep my family tradition alive.
Perhaps, now is a good time to share with you the gifts I’ve received this Christmas. As well, I would like to tell you about the things that I am most grateful for.

First and foremost, I am grateful to report that Santa has in fact made his rounds and as requested, Santa delivered a few miracles this morning.
I know this because there is a man who suffered a stroke on Thursday, December 9. The family was told he had a 40 percent chance of survival. Additionally, the quality of survival was unknown.
My friend Theresa said, “Not today!” and since this day, her Father endured surgeries and gratefully, he is home now. He is home and he is very much alive! More importantly, this man whose chances were slim at best was able to make it home for Christmas Eve. I say this is a gift. I say this is a gift that is bigger than anything that fits in a box and rests beneath the Christmas tree.

I say it is a gift that my young friend Carsyn is home. I know this year has been hard for him. I know that back and forth with schooling has been difficult. I know that he would have rather been outside or playing or doing anything. Unfortunately, his Neuroblastoma came back.
I’m glad to know that Carsyn is home and that there were gifts waiting for him. He is a very special friend to me. Carsyn inspired me. He showed me that I can be better and that I can heal and that yes, we all go through tough times but the toughest of all times is nothing but an illusion.
Life is meant for living. The fact is that we never know how valuable our life is until our life itself is actually in jeopardy.
In fairness, there was a time when I felt most alive when I was closest to death. There was a time when I was locked in my own selfish, self-centeredness. There was a time when I was so lost that I was blind to my worth. I sabotaged myself and destroyed the wholesome truthfulness of all that was right in front of me.

Carsyn faced Neuroblastoma when he was an infant. Now it’s back. But he is home and he is around his family and more than anything; Carsyn is fighting to live. Therefore anything else about my life or my struggles are only excuses. I am thankful to know Caryn and his family. I am grateful for the position of friendship. I’m grateful for it all.

I am grateful for all that I have. I am grateful to have a roof above my head. I am grateful to be healthy and to know the people I care the deepest for are also healthy. I am grateful for this moment with you because without you, I’m not sure where I would be.
I am grateful for the news that came a few days before Christmas Eve. I learned that after the New year, I will be creating a mental health program for my union, Local 94.
I created this out of nowhere. This program did not exist and yet, now it does. I am proud because rather than submit to loss of the common tragedies we’ve faced in the year 2020, since I couldn’t build my business, I chose to build my resume. As a result, new relationships formed. I face new challenges this year however, as tough as this was, I never quit. 

I am grateful for my new friendships and new opportunities. I am thankful to be where I am. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned. One lesson of which is an old lesson that has resurfaced. I was taught that with every challenge, we have to respond with a fact and benefit. This came from a sales course I took when I was younger.
The truth is I’m not selling anything anymore. But I do have challenges. The fact is that my challenges are weighty at times. The fact is I need to improve. I have to learn more. The fact is that yes, I have defects of character. I have old shames that resurface from time to time.
I have something called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, which means rejection is more than just a bitch. This means that if unaddressed and allowed, rejection is like an earthquake to my soul; and if neglected, the earthquake can shatter the foundations of my very being.
The benefit is this gives me a better level of understanding. This allows me to normalize the truth, which is that we are all recovering from something. The truth is we are all sensitive to something. We all hurt. We all struggle. We fall. We cry. We fail.
Rather than complicate this with the common misperception that we have to save face or that we are all so terminally unique, I have learned to celebrate my differences by relating with others that have struggled in their life. I’ve been able to put the bat down that we often use too often to beat ourselves up.

I am grateful for the groups I’ve been blessed to be a part of. I am grateful for the lives that have touched me, reshaped my thinking and I am grateful for the regeneration of life because to me, this is recovery. To live; to be, to build and to create. This is what life is meant to be.

The rain has stopped and my coffee is finished.
For now, I am going to allow the calmness of my room and the heavy grayness of the morning pull off its trick. I am going to allow myself a smile and the thoughts of those I love because whether they are with me or not there is no denying one simple truth. They will always be with me.
Therefore, you will always be with me.
This is a fact to which the benefits are endless.

Merry Christmas!

3 thoughts on “Christmas Morning 12/25/20

  1. Merry Christmas Ben.. Ben I never heard that term before : rejection sensitive dysphoria.. wow you named what I have suffered from ever since my older sister left when I was 3, she was like my guiding light and when she went things go tough.
    Gratitude is so important.. Yours is truly one of my favorite blogs here.. you always write with such groundedness… thanks for all you gave to me of your wisdom throughout the past year.
    I had a long chat today with my nephew over this need to bind together in love.. Let us pray that in 2021 the lesson we take away from Covid and other challenges is to realise the essential need for loving connection with others.. that is what I feel most inside my heart today…
    Christmas blessings all the way from Down under. 🙂

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