Sitting at my kitchen table, warmed by the fire and sipping hot tea, I write my Christmas cards. I add just a few words of love as I believe my card says it all. Pictured with my grandson, I am smiling a smile that comes straight from my heart, happiness captured. I wish this joy for everyone. With each card I write, I recall a memory, a story that reminds me of the many good people in my life. Stamping and stacking the envelopes, I search my mental list for anyone I may have missed. I decide to look through my phone contacts to ensure no one is forgotten. Catching a few obvious names, it’s clear that my memory is not the rock solid steel trap it used to be. Thank God for contact lists.
Scrolling my contacts, I stop at his name and wonder, should I send him a card? We spoke some months ago, after a year of silence, cleared the air and left the door open for friendship. The path to that door remains less traveled. I begin to analyze the meaning of the silence and then . . . I stop myself. It’s late and I’m tired; sleep is what I need. I glance at the neatly stacked cards, and smile.
Every day the mail brings more Christmas greetings, I read each one, and my display of cards grows; a shrine to love, friendship, gratitude and giving. Arms folded, I lean against the kitchen table and admire my artful display on the travertine wall. Without a second thought, I turn and sit on the barstool, take a fresh card from the stack and write . . . BIG LOVE from my BIG heart . . . Merry Christmas. The next morning I drop it in the mail, a card to a friend.
Christmas day arrives and I wake up to a quiet empty house. Moving slowly, I make my way downstairs and shuffle around the kitchen a bit. It’s the calm before the best kind of storm, the chaos of over 30 family and friends standing in the kitchen, eating, drinking and celebrating, while three sofas, several barstools and chairs remain open for seating. Between chatting and visiting, I gather dishes, replenish drinks, collect trash and enjoy every minute of the craziness. I notice my phone lying among the dishes and food and pick it up to move to a safer spot, and there it is . . . a text . . . Merry Christmas xo. It had been sent earlier in the day. I respond saying I’m swamped and add a link to a blog post I wrote last year about Christmas time, a post I really love as it sums up my feelings about the meaning of the holidays. His response surprises me . . . love you . . . I pause, search my heart and write . . . love you back.
And just like that, without analyzing, over thinking or creating a story in my head that paints me as desperate or needy, I accept the love of a friend . . . and return the sentiment. After many long months of self-examination, self-discovery and healing my heart, I can sit with this feeling and let it be.
Last night, sitting in traffic, alone in my car I say his name aloud, and without missing a beat, the words I love you follow. Why am I saying this and why am I saying it now? I’m saying it because it’s true. A year ago I refused to accept my feelings; I believed if I stuffed them away, pretended they didn’t exist, I would move on quickly, more easily, fond memories without a future would diminish. But I was wrong. Instead, thoughts of him crept into my quiet and sometimes lonely moments begging to be acknowledged, begging to be set free. I was unwilling to admit love because it made me feel foolish, vulnerable and weak. How could I love a man, give him space in my heart, knowing he did not want or need my love?
I can love and I do love because I have learned that loving, surrendering, and being vulnerable are signs of strength. I am stronger today. I give love more freely, without conditions. I graciously accept love without evaluating my worth.
It’s okay to love someone just for the sake of loving someone, without any expectation. It makes my heart lighter and my life happier.
Choose love even when it hurts . . . eventually you realize it’s the only choice for a peaceful heart.