One of my favorite nights of the year fell on this Sunday past. The second Sunday in December, each year, my former neighborhood lines it’s streets with white paper bags filled with a candle that burns throughout the night. Each year the neighborhood is filled with a serene peace and beauty. Perhaps that is the draw for me – the quiet – in the middle of the holiday hustle.
I have been hosting a party on luminary night for several years. The tradition began while I was married and living in my marital residence. I was divorced two years ago and no longer live there. Two years ago I contemplated discontinuing the holiday tradition. My heart wasn’t in it and my energy was tapped out. I didn’t know how to handle invitations for mutual friends. I was torn between continuing something that filled my house and me up to the rim with joy and giving up on it because it would no longer be the same and it felt hard doing it alone.
That year I was encouraged by friends who had been attending the party since its inception to reconsider when I heavily sighed and said I didn’t think it was the right year. People volunteered to bring treats and lighten my load of hosting as a single mom with two young daughters who weren’t quite at the helpful stage. I cautiously agreed and kept my expectations low. If the party was terrible, I could retort with an “I told you so” and discontinue it next year.
That year the party meant more to me than it ever had. My house was again filled up with people who love me and my daughters. People who made their way out of their houses on an inconvenient Sunday night in the bitter cold to show their support and spread their holiday cheer with me. I had forgotten that this was my extended family. I had forgotten the crucial importance of inclusion during a time of loneliness and grief. I forgot about the oft practiced rule I thought I had mastered of letting in support during times of difficulty.
Holidays during divorce are difficult. It can be lonely and upsetting to face old family traditions that will never again be how they were. It can be filled with sadness when realizing you won’t see the familiar and comforting faces of your in-laws any longer. It can be disconcerting to realize that you won’t be receiving a gift for Christmas because you no longer have a spouse purchasing for you and on behalf of your children.
I encourage you to look for the little lights during the season. Find the little pockets of beauty and serenity. Look for the loving gesture or smile from a friend of someone who wants very much to ease some of your suffering during this time. Take them up on their offers even though your initial reaction is to want to stay in bed like a scrooge. I assure you that though they may be small, the lights are there waiting to shine for you.