Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Need Christmas

My family's Christmas tree. 
As you knowbecause I've really driven it home by nowit's my favorite time of the year. I'm having a hard time narrowing down what to write about. I have so many thoughts and so much to share.

I had a great Thanksgiving at home in NC with my parents, celebrating another Panthers' win and enjoying what came to be known by my mother as "that damn turkey." I have partaken in numerous festive activities around our nation's capital. I have Instagram-ed every beautiful Christmas tree I come across. I've decked the halls, wrapped the presents, and played Kelly Clarkson's "Wrapped in Red" album on repeat for a solid month....and it's only December 9th. Yet every time I post those pictures, talk about that damn turkey, or tweet about some ridiculous Christmas movie to which I've devoted an evening, I feel guilty. It all seems so frivolous and insensitive at a time when our country seems to be so very mad.

Have you ever looked up the definition of "mad"? These are the top three:

adjectivemadder, maddest.

mentally disturbed; deranged; insane; demented.
enraged; greatly provoked or irritated; angry.
  1. abnormally furious; ferocious:
    a mad bull.
Anger? Insanity? Yep, sounds about right.

Everything seems mad right now. Everyone seems madsome for the right reasons (in my opinion because it's my blog) and some for reasons that are bigoted and hateful. We're angry and scared. There are people being killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time (a time when we desperately need gun control laws. Again, my blog.) Public figurespeople who want to lead this great nationare spouting hateful, dangerous messages that endorse unfair and inexcusable prejudices. We grew up hearing the old adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." 

That's some BS, y'all. 

Words hurt. And some words are dangerous, because they can lead to actions you can't take back. 

As a Christian, I believe this time of year is one when we should be especially accepting and empathetic to those who live in fear, seek refuge, or may not look or think like the majority. Heck, here's an idea: let's do that all the times of the year. (And I say that not as a Christian, but as a human being.) I'm no preacher and my church attendance is less-than-perfect, but I do recall a story of a man and woman who sought refuge and help from others but were repeatedly turned away. They needed shelter for the woman was about to deliver a baby, a baby who would change the world and shape the beliefs of so many. 

My nephew is going to be dressed up as an angel on Sunday to help act out this very story at his church pageant, as many congregations will do across the country. We'll sing about peace on earth and goodwill to men. 

How do I reconcile celebrating the birth of a savior and the spirit of a season with a country that is so full of fear and divisiveness, and at a time when so many are mourning great losses. No, really. Selfishly I'm asking you: How? 

Am I allowed to talk about the fact that I'm really proud of my Christmas decorations this year? Or that my nephew was singing "Deck the Halls with Queso Dip"? 

Because I'm going to. 

That's the only way I can cope* with all this madness and sadnessto continue to share the optimism and joy of the season, as silly as it may seem at a time when everything is so serious. We desperately need the spirit of this seasonthe smile elicited by a home decked out in lights and the fantastical belief in a figure who delivers presents to children around the world.   

The fact that we celebrate a joyous holiday while others around the world suffer is not unique to present day. It happens every year, whether we choose to recognize it or not. And I'm not saying we should ignore the incredibly important and urgent topics like national security, refugees, gun control, and terrorism. That would be irresponsible and ridiculous. We have to talk about those things. We have to take action. However, my "grown up Christmas wish" this year is that we can have discussions about these critical issues in ways that are productive and not hateful, cautious but not fear-mongering, and informed but not prejudiced, so that we may find inclusive solutions that can generate positive change.  

I need to believe in the power of the season. It hurts too much not to. Call me selfish or naive, but I need Christmas.
The Christmas lights necklace. 

So stay tuned. I'm planning on sharing all my holiday adventures with you. From beautiful Zoo Lights to my nephew's "angelic" performance to the $10 Christmas Lights necklace I was convinced was a good investment (I stand by that decision). 

Whether you celebrate Christmas, another religious holiday, or no religious holiday at all, may this season bring you peace, happiness, and love. 


And because I can: You can also cope by making your voice heard by those in positions of power on the topic of gun control. Check this out.

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