A/N: If anyone’s wondering what happened to the last entry I posted during the cold front last week, I felt too exposed again, so I trashed it. I will share the lesson I learned though, since that had value.

Advent is finally here, and I couldn’t be happier (especially after this past week, surviving my first Black Friday in the store!). There’s a tradition I’ve been wanting to start since last year or the year before, and now that I live alone, I have the chance.

Last Sunday, I picked up what I’m calling my “Advent Tree”: a little artificial pine tree, with a purple ribbon at its base (which I’ll switch out with a pink one for Laudete Sunday). Throughout Advent, I’m going to slowly gather little heartfelt gifts I want to give my friends to put under it. Then, when Christmas arrives, I’m going to give all the gifts under the tree away, and put on the snowy white decorations I made for it. I had an idea to maybe add some of that Christmas magic to, especially if I have children one day, replace the little Advent tree with the big tree on Christmas Day…like it got big from all the love and generosity “planted” under it from Advent (many thanks to whichever angel put that one in my head at church today!).

Now, some of that I’d already been doing these past 2 years away from my parents, and it’s always great fun. Instead of having Thanksgiving with my family, like most people, I had it at church with my friends the night before as a Thanksgiving potluck, playing video games together after the eating and talking.

It’s things like this that bring cheer and light to the holidays, which otherwise would be very gray indeed…much of my uncle’s abuse occurred around the holidays, of course, when they’d come over the house. Those cold, dark clouds that’s been coming in with the late autumn chill is another trigger, that being the only memorable weather I could remember seeing out the window when I was abused by him during the day, and the same cold gray lighting I remember around my uncle’s face when he learned about Lucas.

Just in general, Thanksgiving and Christmas bring with them those dark memories, from all that stress from my family constantly being the ones hosting the holidays; the house had to be just so, the dinner had to be just so (and quickly prepared), I had to socialize with family when I’d much rather go hide in my room, and so on.

So yeah…though I did have some happy moments, I was very fragile this past week. It didn’t take much to send me tumbling back to those times, being a very scared and stressed-out little girl. My heart would start pounding, the wind just knocked out of me, even if I was calm and cheerful the moment before, sometimes leading to very embarrassing behavior.

It’s in these very vulnerable moments that I have to remember to be kind and respectful to myself as a human being. These behaviors often make me ashamed, and in some cases, really hurt my frail sense of integrity. I have to remind myself that, just like anyone else who’s been poisoned or harmed by another, these are symptoms to a wound more than they are things “wrong with me”. It’s these moments when that advice just about every  saint, and every other person who brings light and sanity to my life all gave, “Don’t worry,” make more sense. I think it was St. (Padre) Pio who said to pray instead of worrying, just leave it in God’s care, plan to go to confession if needed, and just move on, shrugging off that chain. The visiting priest in my friend’s confessional* said as much last Wednesday, with a very kind smile and a calm voice.

A/N: As this visiting priest had his screen wide open, I noticed a painting in my friend’s confessional: it was a mountainscape I made for his last birthday. I was so surprised and so happy to see it there, I was distracted for most of the confession. God often gives me little gifts like this to help me make it. I don’t always see them, but when I do, it’s often special. ❤

This Christmas is extra special to me, as I actually do have “someone special” I want to give a gift to. Upon my request, a friend from church taught me to knit, so I can make him a scarf. I’d see her croqueting away at choir practice, and remembered the prayer shawl I was given, where the weaver put prayers and warm wishes in every stitch to wrap me in a hug every time I snuggle in it. Needless to say, it was a very joyful thought, to give him something like that. Like the rosary, it’s a very meditative and grounding act, making the stitches, feeling the soft yarn in my fingers, thinking of how the handsome dark blue would look on him, and reflecting on this strange adventure of an experience.

It really is an adventure; the unknown territory, the fun moments, the thrills, etc. I do wish I could understand more about this whole “in love” thing though, especially given my experiences, and our differences. I mean, what adventurer would go out with no map or equipment for the journey? I’d look for things online only to find articles condemning our relationship as impossible, or alternatively, advice only good for couples already married. Meanwhile, I’d talked to guiding figures in my life who, for one thing, assured me that what I’m feeling is normal, and for another thing, tell me how it is possible.

In any case…I’m just thankful of everything and everyone I’ve been given to help me through this adventure through life, to better equip me for all I may encounter: I’ve been given wisdom and compassion through the lessons I’ve learned, ones I hope to impart to everyone I come across. I’ve learned there are more people who are kind than previously thought, though less people who are to be trusted with what’s deeper in my heart than my personality. I’ve been given courage and integrity to see me through the challenges and dangers I might encounter. And now, I have a hand tentatively reaching for mine, to share a chapter, or perhaps the rest of the book, with me. It’s quite a thing, looking at it all.

I’m unsure what’s to come. I rarely have any certainty. At least, I can find a surer grip to that lifeline I have to higher things, and of course the Highest One, who kisses my head with thoughts and feelings that chase those fears away. That’s what Advent is about, isn’t it? Those little candles light up the otherwise darker season. I don’t have physical candles but those things in my mind ward off the past while lighting brighter possibilities in the future.

It’s a warming thought in any case, one I hope to knit into this scarf.

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