Cancer Full Moon: Mother Christmas

Posted & filed under Cancer, Capricorn, Full Moon, Lunar Phases.

cancer-full-moon-300Growing up, I enjoyed Christmas as much as the next kid. I became ambivalent toward the holidays some time in my mid-20s, but it wasn’t until I got married that my indifference toward Christmas flared into genuine dislike. I found the unbridled materialism unpalatable (now that I was at an age when it no longer benefited me personally), the music irritating, and the moralistic undertones cloying. Craving an observance more peaceful, that felt more meaningful, I renounced the Christmas of my youth.

The first Christmas after I made my stand, my mother had a hard time believing I was serious. As mothers do, she wheedled, cajoled, and twisted my arm to join in the usual family reindeer games. I demurred, and she insisted, until finally one day, desperate to be understood and irritated beyond measure I finally snapped, “I don’t like the way you celebrate Christmas!” And watched, mortified, as her eyes filled with tears.

Now, my mother loved Christmas. She loved the tree, the music, the dopey Christmas specials on TV, the cookies, the wrapping, the craziness. She was an extraordinary gift-giver, paying close attention to the random comments of those she loved throughout the year and taking note of what they wanted and needed, and she gave precisely the things that would delight us most and suit us best. So when I made my nasty, hateful comment, I couldn’t have wounded my mother more had I slapped her across the face.

“Spirit!”‘ said Scrooge, “show me no more! Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture me?’

I bungled it so badly, my wish to declare independence; and although my mother soon forgave me, I still haven’t quite forgiven myself. Yet I was motivated by natural impulses: I wished to celebrate the seasons in my own way, to carve out my own traditions. And as the youngest of four children I desperately wanted to be taken seriously as an adult.

Family Christmases tend to be difficult precisely because they amplify the natural tension between wanting to belong and to be taken care of (Cancer) and the desire to be taken seriously as the captain of your own ship (Capricorn). It’s tempting, when you’re first coming of age, to feel this is a zero sum game and that you can’t be your own person as long as you’re also someone’s child. And so you make foolish, hurtful mistakes, as I did, feeling the only alternative is a certain death of the self.

Ultimately I made my peace with mom, and she gracefully yielded to my desire to celebrate the holidays in quiet solitude with my husband and our cats. Left to my own devices, I didn’t throw away all of the Christmas traditions of childhood: we send Christmas cards, bake for neighbors and friends. Then on Christmas Day we relax, eat Chinese food, and watch a marathon of something mindless on TV.

There comes a moment during each holiday season when I reflect on the boisterous, colorful, exciting Christmases of my youth, of piles of presents under a big tree and throngs of loud, happy family members … and I wonder whether my modest version of Christmas doesn’t mark me a Scrooge. But in my heart, I know that all I really want of the Christmases I remember is to be a child again. I want my mother, who passed away eighteen years ago. I want to hide in a quiet room, secure in the knowledge that I can rejoin the noisy crowd in the living room anytime I feel like it. I want to belong to a big, noisy brood – but I don’t, not any more. And the truth is, even when I was part of that festive clan, I always felt a little bit apart, as though I had one foot out the front door, ready to make my escape.

Mostly, I’ve accepted my more solitary nature. This Christmas, though—let’s call it transiting Saturn opposing my natal Moon—I’ve felt the darkness of the season keenly. Scrooge’s ghosts have haunted me, and I’ve found myself wondering whether I have indulged myself too thoroughly in my independence. Who, I wondered, would care for my husband and me as we age? And if I were gone, would anyone miss me the way I miss my mother? Am I a joyless Scrooge, on a lonely path toward a pitiless end?

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

In the end, I got my wish – I’m a grownup now, and sometimes it’s a lonely, difficult path. But in this dark, Sun in Capricorn season, the Moon is a kindly ghost who rises up in the cold winter sky to show my mother’s face to me—the Full Moon face of Cancer’s caring and protection, its offer of nurturing and belonging. By all rights, that face’s smile should be cold. “Look at you,” my mother in the Moon might fairly say, “You didn’t like the way I kept Christmas, but your way seems pretty bleak. Happy now?”

But of course, as in life, her face in the Moon is kind and wise and always happy to see me. And it shines down on my little house and family and the irrepressible vestiges of her old Christmas traditions—the lights on the porch, the cards hanging like tinsel, the plates of cookies. And my mother in the Moon reassures me about the life I’ve chosen, and laughs at the idea that any daughter of hers could be as heartless as Scrooge. “Oh, it’s so beautiful here, honey,” she tells me, observing the glowing fire, the peacefully snoozing cats, the husband in stocking feet. “It’s quiet and peaceful, and it’s absolutely perfect for you.”

As usual, she’s right. And I realize that what I was looking for all along in carving out my own version of Christmas was not just Capricorn respect, but a Cancerian appreciation for the needs of my own heart. And that all my mother wanted was to give me what suited me best – I just needed to learn what that was, so I could ask for it.

Scrooge’s own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

At this holiday season, may you have all of this and more, and everything your heart desires.

Excerpts from “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Full text available online at Literature.org.

© 2007, 2015 April Elliott Kent

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23 Responses to “Cancer Full Moon: Mother Christmas”

  1. Bobbistorm

    Beautifully written I remember when I used to write like that. I changed or maybe I progressed. Wish I knew your chart. Your description of your mother and her joy in the small joys of Christmas is so vivid. As is your desire for space… Yet we all wish we had the option to travel back in time to be a fly on the wall and enjoy her joy. Then… That is the essence of Capricorn isn’t it? In a n eternal love/hate dance with time. With a Capricorn sun and a Cancer Ascendent I understand that. Add in a Pisces moon it speaks to me. Thank you. Good thoughts and well written. You should write screenplays. Your thoughts are very visual.

    Reply
  2. Ekaterina

    Oh, your post so calm and beautyful!And for me, it describes present transits so full. I mean, associated square with Uranus, Mercury and Pluto. I from Russia, and i like your creative writing style)Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth Carver

    Lovely. Thank you for sharing your heart with us, April. Blessed Yule to you and your family. With lots of love. Liz

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  4. Lisa Moeller

    Beautiful and evocative words, April. Thank you very much – I’m touched.

    Lisa

    Reply
  5. Susan Parcheta

    I’m glad I found your blog now; it is beautifully written and inspiring me, as I feel those same thoughts many times. It’s lovely to read you putting a voice to them. I’m inspired not only for myself, but to share with my daughter (who has no children and has been married 20 years this year) and my new daughter-in-law, who is just feeling her way through the tradition thing now, too. Thanks for always writing so intuitively…This is a wonderful topic for lots of reflection…

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  6. Reshma

    Another beautiful offering from your heart to ours. After reading I am sitting here feeling the joy of Christmas. Much love to you and family

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  7. Adrianne

    Yes, and yes. Now that I’m older with no kids or even cats anymore, I like the idea of Christmas but not the trappings. I put up a pre-lit tree with one ornament. (Of course this could have some bearing on the fact that I’m an organizer and have been putting up trees for clients. I am more pagan now than I should be, and identify with the beauty of the season but not the culture.

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  8. Michele

    Your words always shine a light on some struggle I’m trying to deal with. It struck right to my core when I read, “what I was looking for all along …was a Cancerian appreciation for the needs of my own heart.” So true for me and so important to remember that may be the best gift we can give anyone. Thank you April and Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  9. Jeannel

    This is so gorgeous, honest, and heartfelt, I love it.
    Happy you got your wish,
    Jeannel

    PS your wish is my wish, too.

    Reply
  10. Julie Pittman

    Interesting …I was that Mom for many ,many years, including remembering little things people would say about the gifts they needed or wanted and going to great lengths to get them for each person….And this year…well, I feel overwhelmingly that I
    can no longer do it. I have told my children and family so…well, they sure are stirred up and unsympathetic about it …interesting senerio playing out…if i can just keep my cool and stand by my feelings…we might all come to understand some “unconventional Wisdom”

    Reply
  11. Anita

    Lovely, transparent and well crafted, you have given all of us an immeasureable gift. Perhaps those quiet observations of giving the gift that is most desired have passed from your Mother’s sweet spirit to yours…it certainly felt that way to my heart. Merry Christmas wise soul.

    Reply
  12. Susan

    I love this post as I am a Cancer with Cancer rising and my husband and I never felt the need to go overboard on Christmas either. We just did our own thing. We had some traditions we would do like the cooking and some decorations here and there, but at other times we would just take off and do whatever we felt like. I have a Sagittarius Moon…lol I do remember several people calling me scrooge because I don’t do gifts unless pushed into it. It just wasn’t our thing. And I laugh when you talk about being alone and having a bleak Christmas, as now I am alone, and people just worry about me. But, in fact I am just fine with a nice quiet day. All our quiet Christmas’s have prepared me for this time. In fact just last night I felt like just taking off and going somewhere by my self…but I didn’t. But the thought was fun. Loved this post, it hits home to me.

    Reply
  13. LB

    Beautifully written as are all your posts.
    This one hit home so strongly I could have written it myself. Interesting the ways in which we grow. I love your writing.
    Have a wonderful holiday and never stop growing.
    Thank you.
    Peace and blessings.

    Reply
  14. Jessica Lynn

    Oh so me, in so many ways, my Mom has been gone for 9 years now, and I miss her love of all of the hoop la, all of the festivities and the music, I miss her, her joy, her cookie baking, and I miss my kids being little kids, I miss my son who unexpectedly passed away in August, and I miss family all around…

    Reply
  15. Maria

    This is so beautiful, Kent. I have a loudly purring Bengal under my arm as I type this and deep gratitude that I have so many dear friends, like you. I’ve never had a Christmas tradition of any kind, not even when I was little, and for many years I hated the holiday. But these days, this strikes me as a uniquely magical time, perhaps in part because of the stories I’ve written about it. I try to embrace this as the season to enjoy the comforts that I have now. That said, the full moon is within a degree of my 9th house cusp, perfectly trine my ASC. I’m hoping that whatever comes brings out my higher mind and puts me at ease with people.

    Be well, my friend! Big purrs and hugs from over here.

    Reply
  16. Penny

    Your writing talent is a gift to all who read your work. Far better than anything that could
    be wrapped up and tied with that traditional bright red bow! I am sure there is not a soul who reads your words, that can’t feel the vibration of your spirit. I personally feel that awareness you so generously shared.

    Reply
  17. Suzanne

    I have felt the same way about Christmas since I was a young adult — as you point out, too old to benefit from all the receiving. And my mother has never understood why I dislike all of the hubbub. But this year, after my mom told me she and my dad were too old to put up a tree, but that she missing turning on the lights and delighting in their twinkle, I took it upon myself to do for her what I’d never done for myself. I bought a tree, I brought it to them, climbed into the garage rafters to find decorations and put together the Christmas the can no longer put together for themselves. Not only were they thrilled, but it made me wonder why I have never given myself this beautiful gift. After all, what’s more pagan than a tree in the living room? Thank you for another lovely essay.

    Reply
  18. Maria

    Amazing writing, April, I’m at a loss for words.
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Blessings to you and your loved ones.

    Reply
  19. Isabella

    April, I join in the chorus of thanks and of appreciation of your wisdom, your generosity in sharing, the cinematic quality of your writing and the fact that your work touches every single one of us reading you. and yes, oh yes, the cancerian need for recognition of one’s own deepest desires… my mother belongs to the pluto in cancer generation, yet even though she’s obviously in good faith she seems to manifest the smothering aspect of cancer only, and seems blind to the fact that other people may need/want something other than what she thinks proper/safe (I guess uranus in aries is stronger in her). for me the forgiveness/putting myself in her shoes/tolerance/compassion work is a lifelong one, sometimes easier, sometimes apparently impossible. I wish you a great new year with all my heart, April, hopefully much better as soon as saturn moves away from your moon.

    Reply

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