Hello dear reader,

My name is Moque and I am a recovering bah, humbug. I have found myself in the holiday spirit this year for the first time in decades, and I am feeling confused, and maybe a little bit suspicious. Allow me to present a few snowflakes of evidence of my freshly laid holiday cheer:

-Humming holiday tunes BOTH in my head and with my outside voice

-Waving hello to brightly lit houses on my way home from work

-Lighting candles for my family at night to create a festive dinner ambiance to go with our rushed, Tuesday night frozen enchiladas

-Tuning into Xmas music on the radio while solo dashing about on errands…and not skipping the holy ones! (Side note, I am still skipping “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, because let’s not be extra, okay? Oh, and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” because, creepy).

If you know me, you are currently feeling a wave of discomfort and cognitive dissonance, and maybe you are reaching for your phone right now to call me direct and check in. I feel that friend, and a few weeks ago, I was also starting to panic. Now, I am not a grinch-type personality. I don’t go out of my way to ruin others’ cheerful dispositions during the month of December – I simply try to avoid it altogether. I am more of the “grin and bear it” type,” the “I am white knuckling my way through” type, the “make it magical for my kiddo” type. But what I am feeling right now feels very different, and I have a few bells chiming in my mind, a theory if you will, that I hope will help make sense of this.

We have collectively been living in uncertainty and for many of us, in overwhelm and hyper-vigilance, for the past 1 year and 9 months. This month marks our second solstice, and soon our second New Year, during the pandemic. I have engaged in periods of shutting down, making myself small, avoiding change and navigating decision-making with figurative and literal coin tossing and hair-pulling. It has been hard. It has been exhausting. In November, my family celebrated getting our kiddo vaccinated; my partner and I received our boosters. We cried with relief and then cried with excitement when we booked flights to see my mom for the first time in almost three years. Almost immediately, news of the Delta variant turned into news of the Omicron variant, and I felt myself getting pulled back into shutting down, making myself small, avoiding change. But then something else happened, instead – I remembered who I am. I am someone who has lived in this pandemic now for just shy of 2 years. I am someone who knows how to keep myself safe, my family safe, my friends and community safe. I am someone who knows how to live with uncertainty and can recognize when I am shutting down or making myself small. I am someone who can choose what to do next, even if I do use a coin toss to aid me. Cue inspirational music here… this is like that part where the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes. I remembered that I have skills, knowledge, resources, and that whatever I feel is missing, I can grow, practice, and maybe even change.

Now, am I a true believer in the sort of magic that can only happen on one night of the year, and only with the nod and wink of a bearded white guy? Absolutely HELL NO. Here is what I think is happening, I think I am believing in the magic of my own resilience, and with that resilience, I am entering this season with a little bit of hope, a little bit of light.

“To see a candle’s light, one must take it into a dark place.” ― Ursula K. Le Guin

I am still watchful, observing that we are not yet out of the woods, and I feel we may experience more dark days than light, ahead. But where some of my resilience is shining through, where some of my holiday spirit is living, is in the knowing that there is no light without shadow; to know one is to know the other. As I am finishing up this piece of writing, we are on the cusp of solstice and the promise that the light will return. Here is my wish for each of you – I hope you remember who you are. I hope you recognize yourself as someone who is ready to hold the light as you once held the shadow.