Are you looking forward to Christmas? How easy is it to answer no if that is the truthful answer?
There are all sorts of reasons why Christmas is difficult. The first Christmas after a loss whether through bereavement or divorce or break up or moving is always difficult. Memories flood back of happier times or just different times that we were more comfortable with. I can never see the film ET without remembering that was the last Christmas Dad was with us.
In some of the work I have been doing around Christmas I have tried to at least hint at elephants in the room, those we have lost, our own insecurities, feelings of marginalization, risk taking, the future…
As we spend time with our families and friends over Christmas there may be a whole load of taboo subjects we ignore and it is reassuring for me that this may well have been the case at the first Christmas. Did anyone actually have the nerve to comment to Joseph about Mary’s unexpected pregnancy? Did Joseph speculate about what it would be like to be a stepfather? Did Mary ever say she wasn’t sure she was good enough to be the mother of God?
Sometime the elephant in the room needs naming – someone needs to have the courage to say what everyone is thinking or ask the question that is lingering in the background. Sometimes it is easier to pretend there is no elephant.
And sometimes we have the joy of celebrating relationships where there is no elephant!
This is the version of the poem that Paul uses in his work:
There’s an elephant in the room.
It is large and squatting, so it is hard to get around it.
Yet we squeeze by it with ‘How are you?’ and ‘I’m fine’ . . .
And a thousand other forms of trivial chatter.
We talk about the weather.
We talk about work.
We talk about everything else . . .
except the elephant in the room.
We all know it is there.
We are thinking about the elephant as we talk together.
It is constantly on our minds.
For you see, it is a very big elephant.
It has hurt us all.
But we do not talk about the elephant in the room.
Oh, please say the name.
Oh, please say it again.
Oh, please, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
For if we talk about it’s presence
perhaps we can acknowledge it’s there.
Can I say it to you and we talk about it
for if I cannot, then you are leaving me
alone . . . in a room . . . with an elephant.