at least I come by it naturally…
All this talk about grinchiness, grumpiness, and I’ve forgotten the first grinch of them all. The granddaddy, the puffdaddy… Ebeneezer Scrooge!
Which, as I recall, I totally rocked the part back when I was a thespian in eighth grade.
Bah humbug was my destiny. Though in today’s vernacular, it’s more like “Meh, whatevs”
Though, in an effort to balance the depressing soul searching of my last couple posts with a bright spot, the one thing about that performance (which I really don’t recall much) is that on opening night my father showed up.
I was overjoyed that he would take the time, and the effort to fly up from California to see my show. I remember running to hug him in a very un-scrooge-like way. (Though … to be fair… it was at the end of the show, and the Scrooge of Christmas morning would do just such a thing.)
In a way, these posts of mine are a bit like what Dicken’s wrote about in A Christmas Carol. That we need, sometimes, a season of self-examination, a period to purge the ghosts of our past, present, and maybe our future. To determine our path, and make sure we’re still on it. We need to watch out navigation points and make sure we’re heading where we need to go. Safely.
The other part I come by naturally, is a natural introversion. A supernatural ability to have inwards conversations, creating in my imagination the entire conversation I would have with another, and come to a conclusion based on my selfish assumptions, and never say a peep. This, of course, causes all kinds of problems with real life people that want to know what goes inside of my head, and what I’m really thinking. So while a wonderful super power, with all great powers comes great responsibility. I have to actually interact and talk with other people.
One of my father’s greatest hurts was his relationship with his father. My grandfather was a quiet man, as I remember. I think my father an I inherited our introverted super powers from him. My grandfather grew up with a father, and in a time, where effort wasn’t a goal, perfection was, and no amount of success would garner any kind of pat on the back. More often, as it was told to me, he’d get upbraided by exhortations to correct small mistakes, or silence. I think grandpa took this hurt and internalized it, and instead of reversing the trend, and engaging his son (my dad) with encouraging talk, he … fearfully perhaps … decided the best course was silence.
An aside: It is hard, and probably unfair to conduct psychoanalysis on the dead, particularly when I have no formal training. So let me repeat, I love my family and my grandfather and my father… deeply. This foray into meaning is self-serving, in that I don’t wish to continue the generational curse of tight lips and sealed emotions.
My grandfather’s silence was pervasive. And while he didn’t vocally admonish my father, that I know of, instead enveloped in a circle of silence, which absent of the context and a revelation of his thoughts, is just as damning to a child that looks up to his father. Silence can be brutal, as much as critical thoughts and words can flay.
My father, never heard his father say, “I love you.”
My father to his credit said it early and often. I never doubted that he loved me, his words, and his actions on balance always relayed that he cared, deeply, for his children. I heard my dad say those three words with eight letters countless times.
He too was introverted, which isn’t a bad thing, it is something to understand. Thoughts, for us, get clogged up in our brain, as our creative minds stream through a path of a conversation faster than words can be formed on the tongue. Assumptions made, and conclusions drawn, and then conversation, before it is even started had been altered.
The other thing, us Stueve men share is a soft heart that never wishes to cause pain to someone we love. Like my grandfather, we think, sometimes, that an unspoken word will be less painful that a misspoken word. When our words or deeds do cause pain, we retreat, physically, emotionally, audibly into the silent hell of our own minds. Re-playing the misstep, re-winding the tape, wishing to unspeak, or undo what our instinctive actions or words have wrought.
This only exacerbates the introversion, clutters our thoughts with regret, and builds up those dusty rooms that are too dark and grimy to process the emotions we feel so deeply on the inside.
Isn’t that a bit of the darkness of A Christmas Carol, pre-tossing up the shutters, throwing open the sash and flipping a coin down so the boy could buy the biggest turkey there is? This trapped isolation of Ebeneezer that found solace in his dark room, his cold bed, alone with is thoughts, and alone – period.
Thank the ghost of Marley, and his entourage of timey-wimey ghosts that Scrooge was able to see what damage such behavior does. That he could twist his path, realign his markers and forge forward in the bright light of Christ-mas.
See, Christ doesn’t want us to suffer silently in the darkness, He came, became man, to live with us, while we were still sinners. He muddied himself in human flesh to kick the top off the lamp cover and show us what it means to LOVE.
John the Apostle, in his older years, distilled Jesus’ message to this, “Little children, love one another.” Five words, twenty-eight letters. Is it that hard to remember?
I need to exhort myself, that the greatest act of love is exposing myself to those I love and care for. Even if it scares me, even if it might cause pain, even if it makes me cry. Even if THEY cry. I have to be real, I have to get out of my head, I have to LOVE.
That is the bright Christ-mas morning. The sun-shining next day, after the dark night, where we can all say, “God bless us, everyone.”