I'm getting better at being alone. Generally. Sometimes. Occasionally. But during this season, when it's dark more than it's light and even when it is light it's overcast and grey, it can be hard. It's hard when stuff goes wrong at the house. It's hard when I'm sick. (To be clear, Mike wouldn't have been able to fix either of those things, but he would have poured me wine while I called through the list of repairmen, and he would have made me tea and stroked my head and told me I'd get better soon.)
So, yes, the Winter is hard. I went to a lovely dinner the other night, and it was also the first night of Chanukah and so I got to watch the lighting of the first night's candle on the menorah. I was reminded that the third blessing on the first night expresses gratitude for being alive to celebrate the holiday. "Thank you for keeping us alive, sustaining us, and allowing us to celebrate this season." I have to confess, sometimes that feels like a bit of a mixed blessing these days.
But if ever there was a year when I needed to hang some lights against the cold and dark nights, it's this one. And so I did. I went down into the scary scary basement and found the boxes with our few ornaments. I found the strings of lights. I found the stockings: one for me, one for Mike, one for Molly.
And as I put them up, I counted my blessings out loud. Blessings far more in number than three.
I have family who loves me, not just the family I was born into but also that I married into. They let me know that no matter what, there are always people to catch me if I fall. Light in the darkness.
I have deep and nourishing friendships. Friends who travel to visit me here in the countryside. Friends who greet me with open arms when I travel to their cities. Friends who invite me into their homes and who make sure I get out of mine every once in a while. Friends who write me cards and messages and texts just to say they love me. Friends who bring me food and care for me when I am sick. Light in the darkness.
I have a job that allows me to think, and write, and suggest ideas that help other people. Every day I see evidence of real suffering, and I have the privilege of using what skills I've got to help alleviate it. I do it alongside smart, committed, kind people. Light in the darkness.
And that job gives me the means to alleviate my own suffering, too. I take classes, I travel, I eat delicious food and buy ridiculously expensive cowboy boots. And if it gets too dark here, I will just take myself someplace where the sun is a little bit brighter. Light in the darkness.
So, sure. "Thank you for keeping me alive, sustaining me, and allowing me to celebrate this season." Thank you for the lights to guide me through the darkness.