“I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.”
—Hāfez of Shiraz
This time of year, I often see messages and social media posts hoping, for those struggling with the season, that the holidays (regardless of which, and whether one personally celebrates them at all or not) land gently. I’ve long loved that wording—I think it was in a piece by essayist (and hometown-hero) Connie Schultz, where I first met with it, and it stuck, in that way that good poeticism does: echoing over and again in some place deeper than the mind. For me, though, I don’t know that the words have ever resonated more strongly than they do this year.
Because in many ways, the holidays are beautiful. Aesthetically, there are glittering lights and so many colors, the scents, the sights, the weather, the food. But in a broader sense of beauty, the holidays tend to speak to community and joyous anticipation. They speak to giving, and generosity of spirit; of peace and goodwill.
But sometimes, all of those lovely sentiments are wrapped—under the shiny papers and the well-curled ribbons and the poufy bows—in other things; difficult things. And sometimes it’s a complicated family situation, and sharing a table, or breaking bread, or offering goodwill is a just a bridge too far, a stretch too wide for your hands in a season that can make you feel guilty to not bridge the gap and making that trademarked peace on earth come to your doorstep, if nowhere else.