Every Thanksgiving for the last few years, I have spent most of the weekend obsessively crafting. Last year it was seed beads and vintage, German glass being strung and wired into necklaces and earrings for Christmas presents. This year I got real comfy with my mini hot glue gun and several bags of feathers. While I have always loved to make jewelry and slap together home decor accents, this Thanksgiving craft-a-thon is not just about ombre feather patterns in blue and green shades.
My body and soul were trained for 20 years to start getting artistically revved up around Thanksgiving. I have seasonal artistic disorder: S.A.D. You can't spend so many years thinking and working towards putting on a beautiful, thoughtful artistic performance (of The Nutcracker, duh) without those efforts leaving a sort of high tide water mark in your very self. All evidence suggests that I formerly reached a zenith, a delightful height of fulfillment. With Seasonal AFFECTIVE Disorder, depression results from the effects of a lack of sunlight exposure. My version of SAD is the same concept: a lack of stage lights and dancing cause a deficit of happydancy (an important chemical), and I'm left a little depressed. I'll never dance like that again, and the memories of that high water mark will always imply the recession that followed. In 2002 it was low tide that fell during Thanksgiving weekend. a stunning lowpoint of my life. All my hopes and dreams receded; things were uncovered that I could never unsee, and I felt as stripped and exposed as I ever have in my life. Of course, low tide is a great time to make discoveries. One morning two years ago on vacation, my dear friend texted us all from the beach: "You've got to see this." Super low tide. The beach we'd been on for days, years, was exposed like never before.
Every Monday or Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, after suddenly feeling a strange depression creep over me (obviously my Seasonal Artistic Disorder), I almost always find myself with some new crafty obsession driving me towards the Hobby Lobby or Joann Fabrics. Let's make pretty things! I don't want to have S.A.D.! I don't want to be floored by every Nutcracker billboard, every add on the radio (even NPR!!!). I don't want to be stopped dead in my wreath-making at our ladies' event at church because I can just barely make out the Dance of the Toy Flutes playing on the other side of the room and have to awkwardly ask if we can please change the music. "Just quit it, Jessica! QUIT IT! You are a big, big girl now. It's time to quit being such an annoyingly special case. Just float along and acknowledge what fun it used to be, and quit dwelling on the ONE day it went wrong." No matter how many speeches I give myself, I remain human and vulnerable. You see; I was quite young.
Last night, my eight year old came upstairs at 9:46pm. He had been up until 11 something the night before with his buddy that slept over. "What are you doing?!" I said. "You need to go to sleep! You have got to get control of this being afraid stuff! Start talking to yourself in a different way! You are not going to feel well tomorrow." The look on his face was killing me. I could tell he really needed me to love on him right then. He didn't need a speech, and it didn't matter that I was exhausted from the previous night's shenanigans. "What do you want from me?" I sighed. "Comfort," he said. My whole heart melted in one swift, swishing motion. "Come here, baby," I crooned. "He snuggled in tight next to me under my new beloved, soft, faux fur blanket. "I'm sorry; I just get so frustrated because I worry about you," I whispered. "And I'm sorry I get so scared because I'm still quite young." My sweet son, he gets me every time. Being quite young is a real thing. What a blessing to me that he comes to me! The things that keep him up at night are ridiculous to me (seriously, I could write volumes here...), but they aren't ridiculous to him. They are startling, heart-stopping, and sleep preventing. We had a wonderful 20 minutes of cuddles and chat that I wouldn't trade for even 4 hours of sleep (and you KNOW how much that is worth!).
Today, as I though of that beautiful quote, "I get so scared because I am still quite young," I felt an unloosening of my harsh judgments for myself. So Nutcracker season stresses me out. So what? I don't need to ever "get over it." Grief can always have a place. What might not bother someone bothers the heck out of me. At least I cope with just feathers and hot glue; it could be worse! And Sunday after Thanksgiving is the first Sunday of Advent. Awesome. If every year I begin advent with an ache in my heart over dreams never realized, bodily pain, and loss, then I am appropriately humbled. Primed to wait for a star to appear over Bethlehem. Triggered to long for a New Kingdom to come. Moved to weep for the way death takes from me. Reminded to open my eyes, to search over the seabed of my heart, re-exposed by sense memories, and to gather the beautiful treasures, to observe the growing, changing things.
So, all that to say...
Here's some stuff I made.