I am taking a break from my “I is for Imposter” series, partly due to a massive time-crunch at work, which also caused me to be two days late for this post!
But also because I want to share a piece I wrote five years ago. It still resonates with me, and I re-post it on facebook and on my blog annually at this time of year.
And to be clear despite my personal work and quite a bit of effort, I continue to struggle at this time of year. I know others do too. It’s a lot.
I hope you enjoy this piece, and find a good cheer and acceptance in this season.
Scrooge and Me (2014)
Last night, I took my family to see a wonderful production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
It’s become a tradition for us, and really is one of the few we celebrate this time of year.
I’ve seen this show many many times since I was a kid, but this one hit me especially hard.
You see, for decades, I was a Scrooge when it came to Christmas.
I would rant and rave about the killing of pine trees, and the commercialism, and the phony temporary sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, and the cheesy music.
Truly, I was a humbug through and through.
Mostly though I felt sad and depressed during the holiday season, and in my gloom, created a story where I was the weirdo who didn’t like Christmas, and felt alone in that.
Then one year my daughter, Anya, age 10, announced at breakfast:
“I don’t like Christmas either, because Daddy gets so sad.”
This devastated me.
[Perhaps you MKP brothers remember the process from the weekend where the mistakes of the father are transmitted through the generations? Well here I was.]
I knew it was time to dig into this old story and see if I could shift it, so I went to Igroup the next day and did some big work. It was around the holiday, and my mom, and the holiday culture, and the way I felt disconnected from it all.
Unexpectedly, in the process, I came to a new place of understanding and compassion for my mom. She had died years earlier, but I hadn’t realized how much I still have unresolved issues with her.
On the carpet, I opened my heart to the spirit behind the holiday, seeing that at it’s best it’s the same spirit we celebrate and cultivate in MKP: service, empathy, generosity, optimism, and of course, love.
I also touched the mother wound I had been carrying for a very long time, that lingering sense of judgment I had of my mom, and the unconsidered and largely unconscious patterns I was still carrying as a result.
Like being a grouch at Christmas.
After the process, I felt a lot of relied. I felt light and clear. I realized how much I missed my mom, even though Christmas with her was always challenging. I allowed myself to accept that she was always doing her best, and that her intentions all came from a place of love and care. I also forgave myself for all of my complicated feelings about Christmas, and owned that I had been doing the best I could as well.
And I set a new path and affirmation moving forward.
Since that night, I have actually begun to enjoy Christmas.
I learned to show up more whole for my family in December, to let go of some of my cynicism and judgments, and to breathe deep the fragrance of pine and mistletoe.
At the theatre, I had a big moment when I realized that in the course of the play, Scrooge has his own hero’s journey, his own New Warrior Training Adventure, his own initiation, his own rite of passage.
In the process, he explores his past, he wakes up to the present, and he takes responsibility for the future.
And just like the NWTA, it shook him to his bones and opened his heart.
He embraced gratitude just for being alive, for breathing, for being human.
In the morning when he wakes in his own bed, he dances and sings and says “I am a baby again” and races out to give away his heart and his money.
I had started crying earlier in the show (really as soon as Tiny Tim appeared) but now I was gushing.
I reached over to my 8 year old son and scratched his back and felt so much love for him and my daughter and wife next to him.
I felt so much gratitude.
I FEEL so much gratitude.
So to you brave and loving guides, you wizards and angels of the past and present, you irrepressible Bob Crachits, I thank you.
If not for you, and this work, and The ManKind Project, I’d still be a Scrooge, hiding in the dark, separate, alone, eating the thin gruel of depression and judgment.
Instead I am free to honor and cherish the ghosts of the past, to live in the glorious present, and to welcome the future.
It’s a beautiful day, and it’s Christmas time, and I am alive.
I am a baby, again. And I still have a lot of work to do!
Blessings to you all,
King Bee, Fire-Tender