Once upon a time there was a woman, no a family, no a village, no a city, no a state, no a country, no a world that was upset. They were upset because some very bad things had happened and they were scared. Not just a bit scared, but BIG TIME FRIGHTENED that the bad things would happen again. Or that different bad things that they could think of would happen - or even new terrible bad things that they havent even heard of yet and didnt really understand, that those could happen soon. And so they waited and held their breath.
And when it came time for "the holidays" many people said, "Lets not have them this year. What if by having them, we make the bad things happen? What if we let our guard down even for a day and the bad things get us?"
So people began canceling their holidays. They cancelled parties and plane reservations, and sending out cards, and decorating their homes. They cancelled letters, and visits to grandma, and driving to see friends, and caroling for sick people in the hospital. They cancelled baking, and pageants, and feasting, and gathering.
They stayed home and waited for the bad things. And watched for the bad things. And worried all the time. And then, one day, someone asked this question: "If we cancel everything we love, everything we trust and look forward to, havent the bad things really gotten us anyway? Didnt they win?"
And so one day, that woman, that family, that village, that city, that state, that country, that world all woke up and decided that this was the year not to cancel, but especially to celebrate . . . and they began to hum little holiday songs, and leave little holiday surprises around, and plan parties and send packages . . .
But part of what happened was, the people started to look at which of the traditions they liked, and they did those ALL OUT. And they thought of the traditions and expectations and demands they HATED and decided that life was too short and precious and uncertain to do those even one more time. And so they didnt.
And the phone calls were ever so much sweeter, and the gatherings often ended with hugs and kisses all around the circle. And friends who havent talked in years sent each other emails saying, "I miss you. You are still important to me."
And people began volunteering all over the place. Programs had to turn people away, because so many people said, "I have so much. I am so grateful. How can I help?"
And they helped in beautiful ways. Miracles happened. People lit candles to remind themselves about how powerful lights are, especially in the darkness. And those lights shone so brightly. And grownups spent less time worrying about what they were going to buy their kids, and more time creating special memories their children would have for the rest of their lives.
And as the New Year rolled around, a deepest wish was passed from heart to heart for true peace on earth, and that each of us should truly live all the days of our lives.
Since 9/11 our whole world is different: loved ones were lost, buildings crumbled, businesses folded, news became filled with stories of war and many people retreated in isolation. Truly darkness descended. Yet at the same time, others reached out -- hearts and homes opened up as people cared for one another, supported one another, and shared their time, talents, money and gifts. Surely light was spread.
So with these twin energies, we greeted the holiday season 2001 - a season like few others before it. It is easy these days to just be numb and carry on as before, as if in slumber. We invite you, however, to join with us in experiencing the season in perhaps new and deeper ways. In November 2001, as we three Storytellers, Karen Dietz, Patti Christensen, Joan Wilson, sipped our tea and devoured Joans homemade applesauce one evening, we began to ask ourselves what we as Storytellers needed to do this Holiday season - a Holiday season so different than before.
We laughed at our stories about Holidays past, wrapped ourselves in warm memories of family gatherings, and cried at stories of peoples current fears and difficulties. We asked ourselves, "What really is the true Spirit of the Holidays for each of us this year? Is it family, love, compassion, peace, devotion, laughter - or something else?"
In the following weeks we thought deeply, read much, talked with others and then came together again to share what wed discovered. We decided to share our discoveries, stories, thoughts and suggestions. We sent out a holiday newsletter full of stories and thoughts to the network of those we love and care about throughout the country.
The above story was one that Patti wrote in response to 9/11. Happy holidays to you!