Frankincense and Myrrh
Last Saturday night, I stood in the cavernous kitchen of a million dollar home, in a room ringed with a crowd of some of Atlanta’s hardest working brown-skinned suburban citizens, listening along with everybody else as the hostess intoned during her pre-meal prayer that “we don’t know whether we will even be here a year from now”, a blanket statement that could have referred not only to her life, but the lives of everyone of us standing in that room.
It looks like the whole country, from top to bottom, will be facing some very trying times in the months ahead.
In this end of the year extravaganza we know as the Christmas/New Year’s holiday season, even in normal times, there is an awful lot of personal reflection that goes along with the turkey and the gift wrap and the eggnog. This year, it seems that many of us have gone beyond this usual level of introspection to do some actual soul searching as we reevaluate who and why we are in the face of the financial calamity the entire nation is facing.
“Somber” is probably the most accurate description of the general malaise that seems to be hovering over everything this week. This year I am sensing, as we spend less in the stores, that we are trying harder to reach out to connect with the people in our lives. In the gatherings I’ve attended so far, there is a heightened poignancy that envelopes the exchanges between us.
This is the kind of year where nobody cares if Santa is black or white or Jewish or Arabic or Indian – right now, I would imagine that all of us who have been playing at Santa for the last ten or twenty or thirty years wishes that the guy from the North Pole we used to believe in would come back, just this once, to bring a little joy and magic back to this most sacred of holidays.
A lot of us would just like to be able to forget, for a little while, the balancing act that we will be performing to make sure that the holiday cheer we are trying to enjoy over the next few days doesn’t have too big an impact on our survival during the next few months.
So if you are at home right now, trying to figure out what to do with all that extra time you have on your hands this year, since you have a lot less gifts to wrap, take it back to the basics of the Christmas season - call a few people up. If they’re not doing anything, invite them over. Or invite yourself over to their place. Put on some music, preferably something you grew up with, that evokes the times when you did believe there was a Santa Claus, or at least were able to rest comfortably in the knowledge that the people who were playing Santa could handle all of the details.
Remember the mission those three wise men were on. Revel in the fact that you are here, alive and kicking, just like that newborn was that they trekked to see and honor. Celebrate your relationships, even those that have frayed, or seem to be on their last legs. Rejoice in the ability you have to experience human intimacy. Take pride in those things you have accomplished this year, no matter how few and far between they may have occurred.
For tonight, give the soul searching a break, and let these things kindle the warmth and the spirit that still resides deep down inside you.
Have a joyous Christmas Eve, and a Merry Christmas!