Welcome, everyone, to the fourth annual Ana’s Advent Calendar! This year, we’re starting things off a little differently. Amy Leibowitz has a lovely welcoming post to give newbies a sense of the event’s tone.
.Typically, the first day is simply introductions. This year, please enjoy Amy’s post and then use your comment to respond to Amy as well as answer some basic questions..
Questions to answer in your comment:1. What brings you to the Advent Calendar this year?2. What is your favorite/least favorite part of the December holiday season?3. What questions do you have about this year’s event?4. If you have participated before, what is your favorite memory of Advent Calendar? If this is your first year, what are you looking forward to most?
5. Please respond to at least two other people’s comments and introductions. Let’s help make everyone feel welcome this year.
There are so many things I love about Christmas: The lights, the decorations, the crisp air, the egg nog…the list could go on. I’m fortunate enough to enjoy a good relationship with most of my family these days, and it’s easy to slip into the pew on Christmas Eve, forgetting the one walled-off reminder it hasn’t always been that way.
Like many people, I have a family member with whom I have no relationship. Whatever was once between us is dead, burned like a yule log and reduced to smoke and ash. This is the result of choices made and the painful realization this person will never—can never—be who I wish he were.
Growing up, the holidays were a mixed bag. We mostly celebrated Christmas; my Jewish father didn’t care to bring his traditions to our family, so we stuck to Santa, stockings, and a tree. My memories of Hanukkah with my grandparents are fuzzy, but they are largely pleasant. I can’t say the same for Christmas until after I met my spouse and his delightfully oddball family.
Mostly I recall a lot of tension. My mother always tried to recreate the perfect Christmas, probably because she felt she’d experienced it herself as a child. Every time, she felt as though she had failed. The result was a lot of rage, a lot of yelling, and all of us in tears and holed up in different parts of the house. If not for my siblings—especially my brother, who was my constant protector—I don’t know how I would have survived emotionally intact.
Once my parents split up, it took time, but Christmas began to take on the lighter and more loving spirit we’d been missing all those years. All of us began to heal from the anger of my childhood home. Even so, there was still a wound left from the ghosts of Christmases past, and we were all well aware of the empty seat at the table.
No matter how many years go by, echoes of the past still resound. The person missing from my life, and the fact that we will not share a phone call or an “I love you” this year, are constant reminders. They are compounded by lingering grief over the deaths of my mother and my brother-in-law. It’s less now, smoother around the edges, but I will always carry it with me.
I’m sure I’m not alone in managing the pain of loss while surrounded by holiday cheer. Whether it’s the sting of death or the absence of a loved one or a strained relationship, this is not an easy time of year for many of us. Often, there is nothing to be done but engage in self-care, however that looks for each individual.
Insofar as it is possible, let’s take care of each other. We can create safe spaces, online and in person, where people feel comfortable expressing darker feelings about the holiday season. Where there is a lack, we have the opportunity to fill the gaps and love one another through the tough times. Here is where a lot of listening comes into play as well as a willingness to be real, be honest, about how we’re feeling and what we need.
I am now surrounded by a lot of love. It doesn’t change the past or eliminate the pain of loss, but it makes them easier to bear. May you find people who love you as you are and who will share the burden with you during this season.
Following his father’s death, Micah Forbes believes he can finally put the family who rejected him and their religious bigotry behind him. In a cruel twist, his older brother calls to tell him he’s inherited their father’s abandoned vacation home.
Micah discovers the house comes complete with a long list of repairs, boxes full of family secrets, and a handful of quirky neighbors. Despite not wanting to get in too deep, he can’t help the spark of interest stirred when the sexy redhead next door offers his help. Everything about the enigmatic Cat Rowland throws Micah off-balance, from his gender-bending sense of fashion to his handy repair skills to his deep spirituality. Before long, Micah is swept up by Cat and his friends, but Cat himself keeps his heart carefully protected.
When Micah’s past and his present collide in a painful way, his self-destructive coping habits threaten to overwhelm him. To save himself, he needs to open his soul and let someone in. Cat has the key to unlock him, if he can let down his guard and trust his faith enough to catch Micah as he falls.
Author Bio: A. M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. Ze keeps warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, ze blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and hir family.
Web site: http://amleibowitz.com
Download this participation sheet to keep track of your daily visits. Or, if you don’t have MS Word, access the Google sheet here (choose “yes” to make a copy).