In 1968, when I was about six years old, on a wintry Christmas Eve, my father was driving my five siblings and I home from an adventure in the City of Detroit. He was a doctor at Detroit Memorial Hospital. And, to cheer up some of his patients, who would remain in the hospital over Christmas, he paraded the six of us into their rooms to sing Christmas carols. They seemed to appreciate the efforts of this version of the “Von Trapp Family.”
After the hospital tour, he took us for dinner at Joe Muers Seafood Restaurant. It was the best! Shrimp Cocktail was my favorite.
Unbeknownst to us children, my mom was home making all the preparations for our arrival. She, of course, was Santa’s helper. And, on this particular evening she needed extra time to get everything just right. So, my dad ushered us into the convent of the Sisters at Sacred Heart Church. We sang a few carols, after which we headed home to see if Santa had yet to arrive.
On this particular evening, on the drive home, one of us kids said, “Hey! Look up in the sky! I think I see Santa!!” As everyone pushed and shoved to get a peak at Santa through the foggy windows, I dove to the floor of the backseat and huddled in a tight little ball, under the feet of my unaware siblings, until I was sure that Santa was long gone.
A Possible Rosie Sighting by Santa was Averted
I slowly came out of hiding, by which time we were in the driveway, heading in to find that Santa had not only been to our home, but had created the most wonderful spectacle imaginable. The picture of the experience of “all is calm, all is bright,” has stayed with me all of these decades. My mom knew how to do it up right!
What Had I Been Afraid Of?
What had I been afraid of that had me dive for cover in the backseat of that Cadillac filled with children? I’ve been sitting with this question all of these years. I absolutely believed in Santa. At Hudson’s Department Store, in downtown Detroit, I’d happily sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what I wanted for Christmas—though I was often confused by the fact that the store’s Santa was black and wore glasses, and didn’t fit the pictures I’d seen in magazines. I had no doubt that my brothers and sister did see him that fateful night. The point is, for me, Santa was real, and I didn’t want him to see me!
The mystery of that fateful night, which has eluded me through all of the anguish of a lifetime of personal work, revealed itself to me recently. It didn’t arrive as an epiphany. It came as one connects the dots of some elusive picture that can only be known one dot at a time.
What I feared most was that Santa, who was the epitome of unconditional love, would know me as unworthy and inconsequential. And, without even a glance, I would be passed over and forsaken as a mere pittance of existence. This experience was not on my Christmas Wish List! By ducking out of sight, the possibility of being dismissed and overlooked by Santa, was averted.
A Short Back Story
The back story is that, in the six years that I’d been on the planet, I came to know myself as pretty insignificant, perhaps even superfluous. I was the 6th of 7 children, with my mom pregnant with number eight. And at that point, I experienced the fact that other people’s needs always have to come first. There was no malice or abuse. In essence, I simply fell between the cracks, as often happens to “middle children.” I experienced myself as invisible. That’s just the way that it was.
That Christmas Eve, with the possibility of Santa seeing me, or not seeing me, well, I couldn’t bear the possibility of being invisible to him too. I dove into hiding. And, for those brief moments I disappeared into an empty nothingness.
As I recently connected the dots, an image emerges of me as a very young being. I lived as if I was somehow unfixable and undeserving. I spent the majority of my life trying to prove how lovable and valuable I was. Throughout my life, though highly successful on so many fronts, and fulfilled in so many ways, this belief in my insignificance still lay dormant until the final reveal that occurred recently. Free at last!
I Am Not Broken
Within an instant, after unconcealing the truth of that fateful night so many Christmases ago, something shifted. At first, I was unconscious of a mantra that repeated itself. “I am not broken. I am not broken. I am not broken. I am not broken.” As I realized the words that were being spoken within me, I breathed a great sigh of relief. I am not broken. I never was broken, and I no longer have to operate from this very deeply ingrained—seemed to be forever the truth of forsaken, insignificant brokenness.
The Shadows of Christmas Past
My childhood and the memories I’ve carried, haven’t damaged me in the least. They only skewed the placement of the dots of the image I believed was me. Much like Scrooge’s experience with the Ghost of Christmas Past, I realized I am free to be who I am—no longer living in the thoughts and memories of who I thought myself to be. I have two if not three good decades ahead of me to experience the fulfillment of what’s possible! I’m not broken!
Why Did It Take So Long?
Upon reflection upon all that has unfolded through my lifetime—all the twists and turns, the adventures, the love lost and found, the anguish, the despair, the beauty and joy, well, I wouldn’t change any of it. The delight of connecting the dots, the curiosity of what is in the fulfillment of the completion—I have no idea what will emerge. The delight of the process of discovery has ignited the ongoing exploration and the connecting of all the dots that keep revealing themselves—till death do us part.
It doesn’t matter why it took so long. Just like a good Connect the Dots game, the magic reveals itself through the journey—one dot at a time!
Here’s What It’s Like to Be Me
On a side note, sort of.…. I started working on a Christmas painting recently. I’m loving the wonder and magic that has unfolded before me, as I dabbed colors onto the very small canvas. I don’t want to finish this painting—it’s too much fun! That’s what it’s like being me.
As I keep painting and blending experiences and realizations together on the canvas of my life, the unexpected is ongoingly revealed in extraordinary depth and richness. I’m beginning to have so much fun, I don’t want to come to a finish! Now that’s one of those gifts of Christmas that keeps on giving! It’s the best gift ever!!!
I trust that your holiday season will bring you so much love, wonder and joy. Truly. Have all the fun you are willing to have!
Wonders never cease!
I would love to hear your comments, questions and feedback.