If you’re anything like me, striving to be both an involved parent and a writer between times, while living impossibly far from family, maybe you too find yourself struggling through the holidays.
As a writer, inspiration seems to hide away during those long nights alight with LEDs, the mysteries of nature fleeing from illuminated plastic. You watch the kids press their snub noses to the window and lick up the darkness with a keen thrill, wondering in which night those beribboned boxes hide. You touch the closed eyes of a wooden Jesus, that ancient infant, and wonder what he dreams.
You try. You empty your purse out for crystal icicles and an enormous, inflatable snow globe that swallows your yard and spits out Styrofoam flakes. You smile for the flash that glares off your glasses; you print out 70 copies and send that starched moment to friends that remain at great distances. You kiss the wriggling toes stuffed in fleece with feet and tickle tummies that churn with too much sugar. Then you turn out all the lights until your dead deciduous burns beneath the blaze of a hundred voltage-buzzed stars.
As you slip beneath your comforter, your tears sting like failure. You can’t help peering ahead to taller trash heaps crowned with tinsel halos and glancing back at the Mother who stumbles through the straw, exhaustion slowly killing her as the Good Lord screams through the night. All the while you dream of nothing.
Is it the plastic wrapped “cheer” of the holidays that kills your spirit? Or is it just time for another slump, the stars aligned just so as the inevitable achromatic fluff builds up over the brittle panes of a reflective mind.
In my chill glass house I sit with Ms. Plath for awhile under that “dark ceiling without a star,” and remember how devastatingly exquisite poetry can be. We all need some time to nestle by the fires of the greats while we wait for those tender green shoots to break through our frozen minds. Meanwhile, it seems that a nice hot mug of anguish with a shot of isolation is just the thing to get the sap flowing.
And, if you’re brave enough to step outside your warm abode, you might just catch a glimpse of the “the Star in the East”, or some other distant twinkling, to lead you ever onward.
Happy struggles to all my fellow artists this holiday season!