‘Twas 14 days before Christmas when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even Whiskers, our caged mouse. The stockings are still in a crate, and it looks like St. Nick is running late. My children had crashed, done counting sheep. My husband is all snug in our bed, fingers texting against my thigh in his sleep. Our beagle yelps, frustrated with that black squirrel haunting her dreams. Out on the road the late night trucks raise a clatter, an owl hoots as if nothing is the matter.
And yet. . .I feel the deep lonely.
You know this kind of lonely. It has physical bearing, covets oxygen, puckers the eyes, and zaps the heart. That kind of lonely that makes Alone happy it doesn’t have you for company.
It also feels completely out of place among 2,450 twinkling lights, ceramic snowmen, and velvet-skirted Angels. ‘Tis the season I open my heart: gifts to needy kids, cards to service men, an extra something-something for the postal worker. ‘Tis the season I open my door: to friends, to the in-laws, and Rick, my UPS delivery man. January should be the season for lonely. . . or March, when winter is dragging and I’ve got no reason to wear jingle bells on my shoe laces. Who has room for the deep lonely in December?
And yet. . .it is here, dimming the dark.
I stare at the stars splashed across my ceiling from our Christmas lamp and conclude that this moment of deep lonely is due to the loss of my parents. I want to go “home”, sleep 15 hours in my peach and green bedroom, and watch the Wyoming wind scatter the Christmas decorations into the scrub. I want to listen to my dad’s rare collection of Christmas records, drink spiked egg nog and overindulge on mom’s Christmas morning coffee cake. Too bad all of that faded away after the funeral. I’m starting to think Missing and the Deep Lonely may be BFF’s!
And yet. . .I remember feeling this as a child.
Particularly on Christmas Eve. The house was bursting with relatives, the tree was buried behind a mound of gifts, bells were ringing, Aunt Jude was singing, the pies were calling, and I was silently weeping. Even at nine this seemed like an odd time to be feeling two shades too blue.
So I took the advice of Elvis, who seemed to have suffered a few moments of the deep lonely himself. According to him, I was blue because I was missing the love of my life. Maybe when you’re 41, and older than Scotch, all you want for Christmas is your soul mate, but I already had a brother to drive me nuts. What I really wanted was a pink satin jacket and purple leg warmers.
And yet. . .gifts never beat off the lonely.
I brought up the deep lonely with my BFF, Melanie, who’s been having this same talk with a number of other people. A national poll recently showed that up to 25% of us feel sad at one point during the holiday season. “Maybe this is common with people who’ve got a big passion, like your novel,” she suggests. “Maybe the enormity and stress make you feel like you’re alone in this effort. Do you feel disconnected?” Since Melanie is the sounding board to my soul. . . darn-it-all, this girl may be onto something.
Maybe the deep lonely is a result of being disconnected. So I made a point to reconnect to my husband, had some one-on-one moments with the kids, contacted friends I haven’t heard from for awhile, bought gifts out of joyful sentiment instead of obligation. I felt truly connected.
And yet. . .underneath it all, lurking below, the deep lonely remained. . .
As if it were meant to be there. That got me thinking. Could this unspeakable loneliness actually be a reflection of something greater, something so intrinsic and vital that it would explain why all of us experience it? Maybe the deep lonely is exactly what it feels like.
Could this be the missing of our home, our original one? A heavenly home we can not fully remember but may glimpse in the joyful eyes of our daughter unwrapping her purple leg warmers. The home we attempt to create every Christmas but can never copy. If so, no wonder life can feel anti climatic come December 26th.
Maybe Elvis was right. We are missing the love of our life; the pure, unconditional love of The All. It’s that fleeting feeling we get when we wrap a coat for a child who we will never meet or make an effort to invite our aging neighbor over for dinner. No wonder we can throw a hundred lovers, children, pets, and shoes into this vast void. . . and never come close to filling it.
Maybe it’s about the greatest disconnection of all; our separation from God as we experience the individuality of the human experience. Maybe, on some deep internal level, we are lonely for the place we originated from and Christmas, a celebration of home, love, and connection, triggers the missing of it.
‘Twas 14 days before Christmas and I was feeling a bit blue. But that’s alright. ‘Twas the Almighty reaching out, telling me It missed me too.