I never imagined that it would have had such an impact on other people. So many people connected with what I said and sent messages to share their experiences with me, that I was overwhelmed with gratitude and humbled by the strength I saw in people battling through a variety of issues in their own lives.
For me, it was cathartic, as if I'd lanced a festering boil and suddenly the world came back into focus. I'd worried too long about the empty chairs around the table, chairs I'd nearly filled, chairs I never come close to filling, and chairs that had been vacated far too soon.
"That I live and you are gone
There's a grief that can't be spoken
There's a pain goes on and onPhantom faces at the window
Phantom shadows on the floor
Empty chairs at empty tables..."
But I ignored the new faces at the table - I won't do that any more.
I stripped everything about Christmas away this year. I quit comparing myself to others. I stopped comparing this year with previous years from the long distant past. Instead of focusing on the decorations and the glitz of Christmas, I am concentrating on the people in my life and trying to open my heart, to let go of anger and envy, and enjoy the world and the people God has given me.
A Good Friend told me that one of the good thing about Christmas is that it gives us a chance to celebrate in the dark days of winter. Perhaps that's what Christmas truly is about - reaching for the light in the darkest of days.
Christmas, like life, is what you make it.
I promised myself, I will make it better.
I started by going to Mass last night, following the advice of the same Good Friend I mentioned earlier. It was nice and yes the carols brought a lump to my throat but the homily was brilliant and I came away with something Pope Francis had talked about recently that I thought was really beautiful and hopeful. The priest called us to join in the Revolution of Tenderness.
Where do I sign up?
Joy and peace to you all this Christmas.