The most acute physical pain I’ve ever experienced was dropping a plate, edge-side down, on the nail of my big toe last June. It was a screaming, searing, raging HOT pain that wouldn’t allow me to find tears. Only expletives. Eventually it subsided. And with it, the memory. I’d completely forgotten about it until this morning, when I tripped on the rug in the living room and noticed that the toe nail has broken and is peeling off at the site of impact. Which is just above the cuticle. Lovely.

The most acute emotional pain I’ve ever endured was losing my Mama. Period.

My big toe is a pretty inelegant but apt metaphor for the grief I (still) feel about my mother. Up until yesterday, if I'd have thought about it, I would have said it was healing and looking perfectly fine. We go about our days, my toe and I, but then out of the blue, the carpet buckles and the toe reminds me that it’s neither completely nor perfectly fine. No, not really. It still needs tending to. And I can get mad at the toe and tell it that it’s unreasonable that it should act up so long after the plate incident. The big toe don’t care. It’s going to come apart when it’s going to come apart.

For many around me, this year has felt heavy with loss and grief and departures.

Maybe even for you personally. The holidays are like that carpet. Beautiful to look at, but a veritable minefield of emotional tripping hazards. Recipes, songs, ornaments, traditions, cards. Every last one a reminder about where the healing is still a work in progress.

No matter how much time has elapsed.

My wishes::

If you are in pain, please take this time to reach out to those around you. Swaddle yourself with the warmth and care that is available to you, if you only ask for what you need. Yes, your people are indeed busy. AND they will take time for you. (And no, you are not a burden.) Please tread lightly on the carpet.

As for the rest of us, let’s ramp up our kindness quotient. As queues are long and patience is thin, let’s imagine that everyone is in some kind of pain, which accounts for short tempers and irritability. Let’s be outrageous with gratitude and generosity and kindness. Let’s smile wider, tip bigger, let someone in, pay it forward.

You never know who has just tripped or is about to trip on the rug.