I’ve grown up in a culture where Christmas was synonym with obsessive compulsive cleaning of the house to such an extent that you could ‘lick’ the ground once it was done. I hated that hysterical frenzy of hitting the carpets with a bat in the snow, soaking and rubbing all the bibelots my mom was guarding on every flat surface in the living room making our life as kids a living hell if any broke unexpectedly. Then all the hand-made lace coaters under them. We were busy cleaning for weeks before Christmas. My mom was baking, the kids were cleaning every grain of dust from places no one would ever think about cleaning.
By the end of the celebrations – our Christmas dinner always took place on the 24th of December, my mom would crash in bed, secretly praying to not have Christmas carols singers by the door, so that she would finally have a bit of rest.
Even the Christmas tree was set up on the evening of the 24th. Apparently Santa brought it through the window when we were not paying attention. Cool Santa, don’t you think?
However, living in Belgium for the past 18 years didn’t fully erase that implanted state of debilitating preparation fever from my system. Worse… There were years where I could not just be myself, enjoy my own house because I was thinking at my mom, at all the Romanians cleaning their houses and cooking for days and the urge of not ‘betraying’ my roots would surface with clenched teeth.
I would spin the world very last minute, torn apart by self-judgement, guilt, fear, fear of judgement, of disappointing, of not being enough in the eyes of my mom. Even now that she is dead, I still ‘feel’ her eyes piercing me from a long – forgotten, yet not forgiven – past.
This Christmas I chose to just be present with all that was rising up in me: the angriness, the torture of swinging between cooking and not cooking traditional meals, missing her, not willing to make a fuss about it, the unsaid words, missing her again… It was for the first time that I allowed myself to mourn the memories of that conflictual past where exhausting preparations got the bitter-sweet taste of having the family around, the frozen snow in my home town, a sort of excitement which I am not sure whether I made it up or I wished so hard to have it that I thought it to be real…
And something beautiful happened… While I was contemplating the tasks to be completed by the kids – yes, I am that kind of mom who demands of the children to consciously contribute to the household’s well-being by completing household tasks – I caught a glimpse of one of the plants in the eating area. I’ve had it for years. It used to be a decoration ‘item’ in my former training space and after I closed the education center, I brought the plant at home.
For 2 years ‘she’ seemed to suffer. Actually, I was suffering with a lot of self-judgement, punishing myself for having not been ‘mature’ enough to create a business that matched what reality told me I should sustain.
I looked at it from the kitchen: strong, still growing, still springing out of a dry land. A bit distorted, twisting on its own stems, yet present, rich, alive. I couldn’t remember when was the last time I had watered it. Neither when I took a look at it. As if everything was more important in life than acknowledging the existence of what composed my world…
I approached her and took a long look ather leaves. I poured some water at the roots. She seemed to be happy with me around. I touched her stems one by one, feeling the surface of the leaves as well. They were covered in dust. Too many for the kids to clean, too less for the plant to thrive, they were covered in a thick layer of sticky dust.
I took a piece of wet cloth and gently rubbed the leaves that were closer to me. Little by little I was caressing all of them, one by one, perceiving the vibrancy of the plant through my fingers.
When I reached out for the ‘back’ of the plant, my hair got entangled in between the stems and the leaves.
I cussed at first with being so clumsy. The I giggled… No, I wasn’t clumsy. The plant was asking me to be present with her and with what she brought into my life. Where else in my life was I ‘living’ on automatic pilot, so used to hardships that it escaped me that ease could come from a glass of water? Where else am I depleting all my resources because I don’t feel like asking for support or help? Where else was I sitting on the side lines waiting to ‘recover’ from depletion before I could launch myself into the thriving I knew was mine to live?
My hair getting entangled had nothing to do with being clumsy. It had all to do with being present with a joyful whisper of my plant being grateful for me taking care of her.
I remember my mom talking to the plants. I secretly admired that but I would dismiss it loudly. In a heart-beat I started to talk to my plant grateful for having had that glimpse of awareness to brighten up that present moment.
Before I knew it, I was searching in all my cupboards for nutrients for her, a spray to make her leaves look juicy and luscious, a bit more support for her. I might not be a gardening master, but gratitude and joy brought my plant back to life.
What gratitude, joy and appreciation are you willing to gift yourself? Are you running on depletion mood? Who are you waiting for to see you before you get into ‘your cupboards’ to nourish and nurture yourself?
What if 2022 is the year to recall that you can do it al, but… you don’t have to? How much would you be willing to receive from the Earth and all around you? And what belief about struggle and hard work would you have to release in order to allow yourself to thrive with ease?
May you enjoy a 2022 of your choice! Will it be ease? Will it be abundance? I wonder…