No Expectations, Bad and Good

In that period between Christmas and New Years, a colleague-friend and I talked about what it would be like after the holidays. We agreed that there most likely would be some blues among most of us, as the distraction of the holidays faded and reality re-emerged.

Oh, it is that and so much more, isn’t it?

Our decorations are packed away, no Andy Williams singing about the most wonderful time of the year. It is a new year, true, but just as we were warned in December, the hospitals are full with covid patients, and the numbers are predicted to rise even further. We are still living in a pandemic. We still have covid-deniers in our country refusing to wear masks. Our children are back at their desks, in our homes, with all of the work and frustration that entails. We are still worried that every tiny risk we take might mean serious illness for us and our loved ones or worse.

We knew this was coming, but we didn’t know that people would descend on the Capitol and pour into the halls, intent on doing violence and overthrowing the election results. We didn’t know there were people on the inside, aiding and abetting.

So … why on earth would we expect ourselves, our emotions, to be calm, centered, and reasonable right now?

(Perhaps yours are, and that’s wonderful!)

But for many of us – the majority, I daresay – our emotions are not so peaceful. We are angry one minute, and heartbroken another. We are exhausted. We want really simple things, like being able to walk into a store, unafraid, without a mask. We want a break from fear – fear of covid, fear of what is happening in our country, fear for people getting hurt during the inauguration.

I did not expect what I saw on January 6.

But you know what? I also did not expect what I saw, touched, tasted, on January 10.

They say that the last time our area got that significant of a snowstorm was 1937. (My mother, living in Luling at the time, remembers it.) As someone who has never lived in a snowy place, mindful that it would disappear within hours, I made the most of it. I bundled up and with my youngest, we threw snowballs, and made a snowman, snow angels, and snow ice cream. Let my neighbors think I was crazy, let my Northerner friends chuckle patronizingly – we got every moment of pleasure out of those few hours of snow as were possible.

I am thinking of that now, as I look ahead to what will be a long, tough road. It will be months before anything looks “normal” again. We still have neighbors and fellow citizens who refuse to believe in science, facts, or democracy itself. There is so much work to be done to repair all that has been broken.

But magic, in the form of seeing ordinary things as precious and impermanent, is around, if we have the imagination to see it. And that magic will be what helps us keep going. That magic will be what reminds us that life is a gift. That magic will allow us to experience joy even in these somber times.

(Photos by Gabriel Jimenez and Marie Mulling)