Today I went the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. The pharmacist rang up my order, and I pulled my wallet out only to hear that my total was zero dollars. I stared. How could I be purchasing something for nothing? Your insurance covered it, she explained. Your deductible.
I still could not wrap my mind around it. Didn't the year just start --
And then I remember. It's November. Halfway through, in fact. If I had a calendar, it'd still be hinging open to February, I think.
November. Not only the eve of my girl's birthday, but also the threshold of the holiday season.
And -- I'm dreading it. The crazy lines at Target, tinsel-laced everything, the cultural/consumerist pressure to enjoy rather grotesquely opulent holiday dinners.
I'd rather skip it. Stick my head in the sand until January. Most of the folks I chat with about it these days are feeling the same way. Overwhelmed. Looking for meaning. Longing for quiet. And the words of those who try to answer are drowned out by the sound of cash registers and emptying bank accounts.
Just about two years ago now, I was walking through every minute of every day as if I was stepping barefoot on shards of glass. My baby had just died inside me, and I'd birthed her, and we'd held her and then handed her over to be burned away to ash. Our firstborn became our first deceased. And all this just days before Thanksgiving.
When Black Friday arrived, my husband and I found ourselves at Best Buy. Not because we wanted to shop, but because I (we) needed -- something. Comfort? Answers? To feel not-alone? But the churches and meeting places were closed and everyone was out buying and buying. So we went to the shops, witnessed the madness, because excessive purchasing is apparently what we do here in America. What's more, we do it the very next day after (and, increasingly, the day of) giving thanks for the enough that we enjoy.
There has to be a better way.
I don't want to dread the holidays. Because there is such a richness there. A day of gratitude? A season of anticipating and celebrating Holiness donning humanity? The freshness of Epiphany and a new calendar year?
There is so much. So much mystery, and beauty, and story, and questions, and meaning.
And instead of asking the questions, instead of leaning into the mystery, we're buying a lot of stuff that we don't need.
I want to do it a better way. Because up until now, my reaction has been to trudge around grumpy and wholly grinchy, fully of complaint.
This year I'm going to try to do it a better way. Want to join me?