There’s nothing quite as sad-looking to me as a Christmas tree, days after the presents are opened and the the holidays have become just a memory. No one bothers to turn on the lights anymore. What was once the centerpiece of the room is now just in the way, another chore that needs to be taken care of that we’d rather ignore. It reminds me of a school cafeteria all decorated for the prom after the prom is over. When the lights come on we discover that the fairy dust is just a mess of glitter. Crumbs and trash are scattered everywhere. The magic is gone. Something that was once beautiful and cherished is now all used up and sad.
Yes, I’m feeling a bit out of sorts tonight. How could you tell? I’m not sure why, but I think it’s probably just the transition from the holidays back to real life. As I sit here trying to name my feelings and their source, my mind begins playing a tune from the Broadway musical, Cats.
“She haunted many a low resort
Near the grimy road of Tottenham Court
She flitted about the No Man’s Land
From, The Rising Sun, to, The Friend at Hand
And the postman sighed as he scratched his head
You really ha’ thought she’d ought to be dead
And who would ever suppose that THAT
Was Grizabella, the Glamour Cat?”
Grizabella is rejected by all of the other cats even though she is also a Jellicle cat. Years earlier she left the tribe in order to explore the outside world. She wants to return, but she is no longer wanted. It isn’t until Victoria reaches out and touches her that she is accepted once again.
I’ve seen Cats multiple times and each time my heart aches for poor Grizabella who is so completely alone. So pitiful. So used up. So. . . sad. Then there’s that poignant moment when the beautiful Victoria reaches out to her and touches her with a cat’s caress.
“Touch me, it’s so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun.
If you touch me, you’ll understand what happiness is.
Look, a new day has begun.”
And I wonder: what on earth do my Christmas tree, my pensive mood, and Grizabella have in common?
The Christmas tree served its purpose. It’s time to lovingly pack away the ornaments until their season rolls around again next year. We have the gifts and the memories of the anticipation and excitement to carry us through until then. When the time comes, that tree and those special ornaments will bring the Christmas magic back again. But for now, it’s over.
The streamers, glitter, and confetti of a prom served their purpose. Now that the prom is over, they need to be swept away. The teens will remember the special moments through photographs and special memories. In another year, another group of imaginative students will turn the utilitarian cafeteria into a place of magic again. But for now, it’s over.
But people – never. It’s never over. As long as we are here, we need to belong – to a family, to a group, to a place. A person should never be used up, discarded, or rejected. Sometimes it’s hard to reach out to touch. It seems risky. Like the cats, we find it’s hard to take a chance on touching someone we feel hurt, abandoned, or rejected us.
But if we take the chance, if we dare to reach out and touch,who knows what might happen? Maybe another magical Jellicle life?
“You’ve learned enough to take the view
That cats are very much like you.”
*You know, sometimes I have to see what I say in order to know how I feel and what I think. That’s often why I write. Usually it works. Sometimes, like tonight, I leave the page still wondering what it is lurking inside that refuses to be named. Some experiences at the end of 2011, both professionally and personally, are rumbling around in there. I’ll keep working on it. At least tonight I’ll have some delightful tunes playing in my mind as I continue to wonder.