Miss Mary packed her bags today: a bleached swimsuit, 4 pairs of underwear, two camisoles, pajama cut-offs and a too short sundress. “I’m going on a trip.” she announced. “I don’t like skiing, I don’t like sledding, I don’t like all this dumb snow. I’m going somewhere with sunshine and summer.”
She’s not alone. Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to today is singing the winter blues. Storm after storm this week have cloaked the valley in gorgeous glistening white. But the sun is pouting, masked behind clouds and refusing to show it’s pretty face.
Utahns are trained to love snow from birth(obviously we were unsuccessful with Mary). We know our economy and water supply are dependent upon the fluffy stuff, but sometimes the January knowledge that we have months of sunless days ahead is too much to bear.
Both Erik and I suffer from winter depression, dancing a two step as we take turns with down days or hours. We’ve found that we have to be extremely gentle with each other. Like overflowing buckets slung over the water boy’s shoulders, even small bumps in the road spill short words and hot tears.
And so, when everyday stresses– stalled cars, horrific grocery bills, a wrestling match that punches a knee through the wall– aren’t handled with greatest diplomacy, we dole out forgiveness quickly and in generous doses.
I’m reminded of a story Ben heard in Sunday School– Allen was playing basketball against a harsh, physical team. One boy in particular seemed determined to start a fight– tossing insults and deliberately fouling opponents. Allen succumbed to the challenge, bloodied the boy’s nose and knocked him to the floor.
Later, Allen learned that the angry boy’s mother had died the day before.
Shamed, Allen cultivated a beautiful habit, “Every time I’m treated unfairly– cut off in traffic, swindled out of money or simply ignored– I create elaborate stories of the horrible events that might be taking place in that person’s life. I feel so sorry for them that my small hurts disappear.”
If I look carefully, I see pain and beauty in every face. Perhaps I’m finally ready to make a New Year’s resolution: to treat people gently, kindly, and scatter light even when clouds cover the sun.