Right about now a ton of people are really, really unhappy, and vice versa. But enough already, it’s Christmas. Not solstice, not midwinter holiday, it’s the Christmas season. If nothing else was evident during the Election That Went On Forever, it was that a whole lot of people were fed up with political correctness. So it’s Christmas at my house.
All the Jewish kids I knew growing up had Christmas trees and Santa Claus. And we loved Hanukkah because teachers wouldn’t give a test when so many kids were out of school. You don’t have to have a manger scene on your mantle to celebrate this season. Even “nons” buy Christmas trees, Christmas presents, have Santa Claus (as in Saint Nichlolas), so there. I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and I’m not Irish. I celebrate a whole lot of stuff in groups in which I’m not a member.
For Muslims and Hindu and Sikhs I am here to say if you give a party to celebrate peace and hope and love, I will come. So let’s just all take a breath. If Christmas is an affront to you go take a walk or avoid the malls. When in Rome…this is how it is around here so when I go to a country of different majority religious and cultural philosophies, I’ll try to go with the flow there.
If you still feel like Scrooge and say “Bah, Humbug” to our government, and you’re still mad about Washington, just send switches and ashes to anybody you still grind your teeth over. Write an angry letter then go plant pansies. Making a list of who’s naughty and nice is probably going to go on for a long time for the political winners so pass on that. History always is written and edited by the winners. If your team lost, go to a movie. Serve at a soup kitchen. Take a trip. Read a book.
What would it take to make for a nice holiday and detox from an awful couple of years?
All I want for Christmas is good old Peace and Joy, an occasional parking place, and no more election breaking news, so I’m going unplugged for a while and putting on Christmas carols. My guess is the news is once again all about murders in Chicago, extreme weather, and the mess in the Middle East, like a soap opera where you can miss a month and dial back into the story in only one episode. Maybe a little rally in the stock market would be nice, but if not I’ll just quit looking at the Dow. After all, what most college kids say they want isn’t pricey.
I found this from a piece I wrote in 1996 and it still holds true: “Clean sheets, laughing ‘til your face hurts, kissing in the rain, hot chocolate, fluffy pillows, watching a candle burn, fresh flowers, blowing bubbles, Oreo ice cream, hearing someone say “I miss you” and knowing that they mean it, when a dog jumps up in your face and licks you ‘cause it’s happy to see you.” And I would now add, watching toddlers play, babies taking their first steps, listening to children sing, and stargazing. Most of that is readily available and free.
The best gift of all may be to sit down and write a letter to someone who will come after you about how life is today, and how you wonder what it will be like in twenty years, and postmark it so it will be opened in 2036. Twenty years ago we didn’t have social media, the Internet was in its infancy, and the dreaded disease of the day was AIDS, not Ebola or Zika. But who can remember what they got for Christmas or in their stockings? Or what they were wearing?
No matter how strapped and annoyed this year has felt or how worrisome the future may seem, let’s not forget the marginalized, unemployed, working poor, men and women who don’t have golden parachutes, whose debts won’t be forgiven, who aren’t special cases under the law, and who aren’t “players” in the market, people for whom putting on a smile and saying “Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” is more than just a courtesy. It’s an act of courage…and of simple faith. A little more of that would be nice.
Len Bourland can be reached at www.lenbourland.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and is on author tour with her book “Normal’s Just a Cycle on a Washing Machine.”