Christmas is Complicated

For the record (no pun intended) I didn't listen to just German music as a young person.

 “Sometimes change comes at you like a broadside accident.” That’s Joni Mitchell’s line and I consider it my line, too. It’s been 35 years since that December 3rd collision with the Greyhound bus. I wasn’t in the car, but when the police drove me past the crumpled heap that carried my firstborn and my husband, I was too terrified to ask questions. 

I spent the rest of that December holding my only slightly injured daughter (car seats work!) while visiting her father in ICU. I still remember the beeps, the smells, and stranger sniffles from another bed over. I remember visiting a mall during those pre-Christmas weeks and feeling like an alien.

For Christmas Day, we got promoted to the Neurology Ward. It was our first Christmas as a family and our daughter was cutting her first tooth at seven months old. Her dad, still alive after surgery and a two-week coma, had a serious brain injury which has haunted my 37-year marriage. I took home a reasonable facsimile of the man I’d married and, I can’t lie, in spite of  hope and positive thinking, it’s been a struggle. 

All this about my personal life, just to say that December is complicated for many, if not most, folks.

The other day, I heard a podcast interviewing the wonderful Shelagh Rogers, host of the Next Chapter (her weekly program should be required listening for any writer) on CBC. She spoke of her own experience with an accident when she went through a car window. The splinters of glass in her face took years to emerge. That describes my process of dealing with our own traumatic event. The splinters lie there, sometimes for decades, but eventually they surface. 

What’s that other Joni Mitchell song? The one about Christmas and about the river? Yes, that one. That fits, too. A snowy river? Sounds perfect.


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