heartache

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Heartache.

What an inadequate expression of pain. Generational heartache is heavy, and physical, a sagging weight on your chest. That is what my heart felt like yesterday. Holidays hurt and I am left trying to figure out why.

Yes, I miss my mom and sister, but more so I miss the traditions that my father relentlessly enforced. It is complicated. Growing up I felt controlled by his insistence that we all share all holiday meals together. Those traditions were important to him. I never asked him why just resisted being controlled. But he had no mercy, not for other plans or other people in our lives. Bring them along he always insisted. And now I long for them like an abused child longs for the love of their abusive parent.

On Easter we gathered and living in Texas we got new outfits for church, we ate lamb with mint sauce.

He made us gather.

And now, the lack of tradition creates a crater inside me. I am so averse to being controlling, that we don’t do it at all. I don’t want to insist and I don’t want the hurt of family choosing to be elsewhere. And to labor over a giant meal like my mother always did, only to have family eat and disperse as quickly as possible seems like too risky. Why do I protect my heart at all costs? Or perhaps I’m simply too lazy and I do not want to do the work.

And it is work. It was easy for my father to insist when he wasn’t the one spending all day or days in the kitchen.

I don’t want to become my father a dictator of tradition. I don’t want to become my mother a slave to tradition.

I am left with a hole so cavernous I can hear the wind blowing, whirling, and lashing. I was physically ill for days thinking about it all, so complicated, so twisted, and so hard to understand.

I am broken by my upbringing and unable for whatever reason to create our own traditions. It is too painful to be rejected and that is why I think my father just made us. As crazy as that sounds, perhaps I get it now.

I know I do not want to be that person. Fifty-four and both parents dead and I am still trying to figure myself out.

Femmes arabes sur baudets.

The New York Public Library has shared old photographs to the public commons of flickr. I was intrigued by these really old images from Syria and Egypt and this one in particular. It made me think of Mary, Jesus’ mother, possibly riding in to Nazareth, exceedingly pregnant. She would not have been veiled, but in every other way this image takes me there.

I just love old images and thoroughly enjoy scrolling through them.

On a slightly different note, has a kid ever asked you things like “Why is Santa called Santa?” Or, I’m trying to remember some of the stranger questions I’ve gotten over the years…. about various Christmas customs?  Have you ever wondered why a tree is used to celebrate Christmas?  I have.  I found an interesting website explaining why we have certain Christmas traditions and fascinating to me, how Christmas is celebrated  in various cultures.  Christ followers celebrate the birth of Jesus and if you’re curious, read the full Christmas story here.

And, being a step-parent, I found this rendition of the story of Joseph to be interesting.  It’s found on an Anglican Church website.  Being a step-mom was one of the most difficult roles I’ve ever found myself playing and it isn’t a game.  Every day, with an instant five year old child was personally challenging and tested my character and strength.  I’m afraid I many times came up short.  But I never considered the fact that Joseph was raising a child that wasn’t his own blood.

I hope you will enjoy the 19th century images.  And perhaps learn something you didn’t previously know about the customs of Christmas.