Wednesday, December 20, 2023

O Tannenbaum: Christmas Grief and Christmas Hope

I saw a notice outside North Wood United Church that they had a Christmas grief healing service last Sunday. I didn't go. I recognize for a lot of people Christmas is a sad time of year. Lost loved ones, setbacks, disappointments. These are tough times. A lot of people are going without.

I remember one year I bought a Charlie Brown Christmas tree from Rona and it brought a smile to my face. For many years that's how I felt. Now I see that same tree is $65 and I'm like f*ck me. Everything is going up. If you're homeless then yeah, Christmas is going to suck. If you're in prison then yeah, Christmas is going to suck. I guess they key is to look up not down.

If you're in prison, you know you're not going to be there forever. Eventually you're going to get out. That's hope. Now is the time to start making plans. If you can take courses then do it. Don't load up on methadone. Do something. It's a time to self reflect and ask yourself why you're there and where you would rather be. Trying not to get caught isn't the answer. Conforming to a civilized society is. What is a civilized society? You don't need me to tell you that. We all know.

Setbacks cause reflection and growth. No matter what your past, you have a spotless future. So we have a blank canvas in front of us. What do we want to put on it? What kind of a picture do we want to paint? This is the first year in a long time that I set up a proper Christmas tree. I picked up some inexpensive balls and stars at Ikea and some proper North American hooks for the balls at Walmart instead of string. When we plugged the lights in I was like wow, that's kind of nice. Plugging Christmas trees in at night is magical. I haven't seen that in a long time.

I had a whole bunch of family members die one year and Christmas has certainly changed. I wouldn't say it's depressing. It's just a whole lot quieter. People who have lost loved ones to gang violence have a hole that can never be filled. There's a grieving process.

Is there a healing process? I can't see it. Nothing will change the past. All we can do is look forward to the future knowing that life does not end a death and live the kind of life that will bring us and the people we love peace. Do what the Catholics do. Light a candle for a lost loved one and cherish the memory. Remembering that your time here isn't finished yet.

The City of Surrey has a nice tree. I agree they put it in a bad location. There's no free parking at City Hall. It was better where it was or at least on the corner of King George at Holland park so people driving by can see it. I found a funny picture of the Surrey tree. Everyone has umbrellas so it must have been raining pretty hard. Let's embrace the hope and the reflection of that light.

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