Billy Joel sang, “…we all have a face that we hide away forever and we take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone….” The Beatles sang of Eleanor Rigby who “…waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door…who is it for?”
During the holidays we are often subjected to holiday parties, company parties, relatives we would not necessarily spend time with if not for them being related, and to neighbors who come bearing baked-goods. We put on our holiday best face just for long enough to brave the festivities. And then we go home and take off the mask and let our warts show. Sometimes it’s draining. And all that smiling can cause your cheeks to ache! Still, we all play. We all put on a brave face, a happy face, a caring face, a face for the boss, the lover, the spouse, the BFF…. It seems we have more than just the one mask of which Billy Joel and/or The Beatles sing. We each have many.
Just a couple of days ago, some little “tween” girls came with scrumptious pumpkin bread and a sweet hand-crafted greeting card. For them, the face I wear is one with a gigantic goofy smile of gratitude for the sweet treats and kindness they bring. These young visitors are being taught to be neighborly, and they are doing a great job of it. They too wear masks: Shy smiles in spite of themselves.
There was a time decades ago, when I wore a mask for my in-laws. Those days are long gone; everyone is now deceased. But I still recall how tenuous our interactions were. Our common ground of loving the children -my kids, her grandchildren, was enough to keep us wearing our subjective civil masks. Neither one of us would have chosen the other for a friend. But as time went by, we did peel back the masks and revealed more of the truth of our authenticity.