The year after Mom died, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” became my holiday theme. Not surprisingly, as the Holidays draw near again, it’s resurfacing for me.
Husband and I watched The Family Stone last week during a cheap-skate date (dinner and a movie in, free babysitter–gotta love that!). I’d kind of forgotten that it had the whole ‘terminally ill woman spends Christmas with her family’ theme going on with it. I’d never seen it before.
I would have been fine with the whole thing if “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” hadn’t been prominently featured in the film. I really would have. But there was Judy Garland singing her heart out, crying those beautiful vintage tears and bringing me back to reflect on the Muddling of it all.
“Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow…. Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow….” (I’ve quoted that line here before…. It’s a recurring theme, what can I say?)
I laid there that night, after we watched the movie, after I heard the song that packs such an emotional punch for me and all I could think was how prominent the concept of “muddling” has been to us. And I cried and bawled and wailed, and poor Husband didn’t know what to do with me.
Muddling. I feel like my whole marriage with Husband has been muddling. Not because of Husband of course. Our marriage has played out against the backdrop of a Navy lifestyle, the death of my mother, five grandparents, and several other significant friends and family members. We’ve experienced the stress of raisingn two young children while enduring the yo-yoing of separating and coming together again with deployments and detachments. Maybe it’s because I’m codependent and I like to create my own chaos, or maybe it’s because life has really been bits and pieces of chaos. I just always feel like we’re muddling. Just doing what we can to make the best of it. Trying to embrace the beauty and the mess of it all.
This year, the mess is me. It’s us. The mess is our healing. The mess is Husband and I trying to reconnect as Husband and wife in the wake of all the previous mudding. It’s the exhaustion and the frustration and the stress and the joy and the exquisite tenderness and the pure amazement of raising our two beautiful children.
Muddling feels something akin to just surviving. And my ideal is to do more than survive, but to really live.
But it occurs to me that maybe muddling IS living. It is part of living life abundant. Of feeling the heights of the joy and the depths of the pain. Of facing the messiness that is you.
It’s not that all has been joyless. There has been much joy–exquisite joy. Discovery, and abundant love, and wonder and amazement. It’s not that the difficulties we’ve faced have been so extraordinary. We have a very ordinary set of troubles. We do.
This Christmas song that I love so much isn’t about muddling. It’s a song about looking forward with hope despite less than ideal circumstances… and living fully in the joy of the present in the meantime. It’s not about having joy because of an absence of muddling, but about holding onto the light of now in the midst of it.
I want to learn to, or remember to, or continue to joyfully embrace my muddling. I want to continue to look forward with hope… to days of being together with people that I love, both on this side of Heaven and beyond… to days of feeling together and not like an unraveling mess… Days of sinking in solidly to the feel of my husband’s arms around me without a burden of cares and worries and disconnections between us. In the mess and the muddling in the meantime, I want to grasp the reality of the joy of right now with both hands and hold on tight.