I try not to place expectations on myself for how I should feel during the holiday season.

Mostly because there is nothing worse than expecting yourself to feel festive if you are not indeed feeling festive, and I don’t like the idea that a season should dictate how one should feel. The free spirit inside of me strongly feels festivity should not be prescriptive, but free flowing, spontaneous, bubbling up from within.

As I was taking a walk tonight, watching my Kintsugi Pup trot along with complete happiness and wild enjoyment, I realized that I don’t expect but I desire to feel a sense of festivity this season. Childlike faith. Innocence. Unfettered Joy.

I wish to be enchanted by life and love. By things bigger and grander than just myself and my cloudy thoughts as of late. I, like Pup, wish to trot along with complete happiness and wild enjoyment.

I want my Miracle on 34th Street, my It’s A Wonderful Life, my Charlie Brown Christmas.

I want the magic this season.

Somebody once told me I have one of the youngest and oldest souls they have ever known. It’s true, this observation, I think. I know I have the capacity for an unsullied, unfettered joy mixed with an aged, discerning wisdom that likely falls well beyond my years. I also know that I haven’t been living up to this capacity in quite some time. Not through any intention, lack, or apathy on my part really. More from the twists and turns life has brought.

Joy becomes gritty when life gets heavy.

Lately, I have been wondering where my joy has gone. This childlike ability I used to have to delight in the tiny, magical wonders of life. I told somebody the other day I feel like I have lost my thrum. That marvelous, whimsical connectivity that makes my heart feel like it is galloping free in pure delight, echoing in time with the deep beat of the earth.

Where oh where did that go?

If we sat down for a nice cup of tea and good conversation, I could give you a list of the things that have brought a sense of weight and depth to life this year. At times accompanied by a generous side of grief. I would say this list offered lessons on spirituality, maturation, wisdom, and the magnitude of the human experience.

Good stuff, but not exactly a barrel of monkeys.

I suspect you could share your list with me and we would agree, as we sipped on hot tea and wondered just how the warm buttered cranberry scones disappeared so quickly, that at times the trail of being a true human can be very difficult. We do the best we can when life gets heavy.

I also suspect the more I talked about my list, the more I would pinpoint the areas where my childlike joy was displaced. Unwittingly exiled to another land where lighter fare and easier days ruled. I’m pretty sure they have lots of barrels of monkeys in that land and play nightly.

But who has time for monkeys when life is filled with grit?

We have no room at the inn for you right now, my heavy heart said. Can’t you see we are too full trying to negotiate this life thing to entertain you. Go play somewhere else, you don’t belong here.

Perhaps a season shouldn’t dictate how one feels, but as I was walking along tonight staring at the soft hues in the sky that say snow will soon arrive, looking at the colorful lights strung up among the houses, watching the tiny ball of fluff in front of me frolic and play so carelessly, I realized that I choose to breathe in the spirit of this season and glean inspiration. So I sent my joy an invitation of return.

Dear Joy,

We are so very sorry about the difficult, tectonic situations this past year that led to your accidental dislocation. Truth be told, shit just got a bit more real than expected. We warmly welcome you back and eagerly await your expected return. We have left our heart open for you and have strung up a few extra lights to help guide you on home.

Love BA & Pup xxxooo

p.s. There is a plate of warm cookies and a glass of almond milk waiting for you.

p.p.s Did we mention the cookies are thickly frosted? With sprinkles?

p.p.p.s We promise to take more time to play barrel of monkeys with you.

I realized as I let inspiration from this winter’s night flow, that I had a first class ticket to joy darting in and out of the snow. This wonderful new little creature who goes by many names, but who I sometimes call Kintsugi Pup- abandoned and rejected, given a chance at new life, new gold to fill the cracks in his heart by this gold filled heart.

He seems to know little but joy, curiosity, happiness, excitement, and absolute wonder at the new world that has opened to him since I welcomed him into my home a month ago. His daily presence in my life has tugged at my heart, reminding me of vulnerability, innocence, trust, and belief in something bigger and more magical than myself.

For Pup, every day is magic.

Perhaps he is my Miracle on 34th Street. His warm, pup joy rubbing against and smoothing the callouses on a tired heart.

Perhaps my Miracle on 34th Street is yet to come this season.

Perhaps my miracle is already sitting inside my heart, simply waiting for me to take a long pause, clear out the clutter of the days so I have better eyes to see, and realize it is right there hoping expectantly I will soon find it.

Maybe I will realize my joy never did go anywhere, maybe it was simply I who moved away from it.

Either way and come what may, I have an open heart, the light of Kintsugi Pup at my side, the magic of the season at hand, a new barrel of monkeys, and I await my joy.