Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christmas Comes Early

                                          *Photo Credit: Google Image Search

It’s been a minute since my last post.  I’ve not found anything really noteworthy to say.  Mostly each day is filled with some new revelation about the president-elect/country/humanity that has rendered me physically ill, and I find myself searching for a way to block out what I’m hearing.  I’m debating quitting social media.  Despite a few attempts at engaging folks who disagree with me in a dialogue, those who I know voted for Trump have mostly returned to business as usual – posting about recipes and pets, while a few truly unkind few (who are mostly folks who consider themselves Christian) continue to post and like hateful articles that basically poke fun at the pain the “libtards” are feeling.

Meanwhile, a jury of 12 individuals (only one person of color included in the mix), could not come to an agreement to convict Michael Slager of manslaughter as he shot Walter Scott 8 times in 2.7 seconds as he ran away.  8 times.  In the back.  As he ran away.

I think my hope/faith in humanity has never ever been lower.

But.

I noticed something, at least in my neighborhood.

My neighborhood is very blue collar.  Folks who live around me have either lived there for the entirety of their lives or moved out of the city when they could no longer afford city prices.  Many are police officers, electricians, teachers.  It’s a really fascinating mix of ages and ethnicities.  “Proud Union Home” signs are all over the place.  My elderly neighbors across the street were Polish immigrants who met in a concentration camp and prior to her death, the woman would bring over sweets on regular occasions.  Her husband also bestowed upon me one of the most profound theological insights of my life ( http://reachingacrossthechaos.blogspot.com/2015/07/in-our-place.html)  My other elderly neighbor is a retired shoe salesman who drops off coupons for diapers every week.  It’s a community that doesn’t have a lot of frills, but one that pays attention.  It’s a community that many would drive through without noticing, except for around the holidays.

My neighborhood is the kind of neighborhood that more houses than not have inflatables outside their home at any given moment.  Halloween? Giant ghosts and ghouls wave in the wind.  Thanksgiving?  Turkeys 10 times the size of any I’ve ever seen are on all the yards.  Christmas?  Don’t even get me started.  Initially, I thought it was ridiculous that so many people fell into the trap of buying these crazy decorations (and so many people have the exact same decorations purchased at the exact same Ace Hardware down the street).  But then I had kids.  And I totally get it.  Watching my kids react to these decorations and the holidays in general is one of the best experiences of my life.  Their eyes light up with wonder.  Their bodies shake with excitement.  It is a joy to behold.

A couple days after the election, I started to notice a shift in my neighborhood.  Sure, the Thanksgiving d├ęcor was around, but I started to see Christmas trees placed in prominent front windows.  I first thought it might just be a few die-hard early Christmas decorators, but then I realized that there were more than a handful of houses that had also decorated their exteriors.  And they were houses that weren’t the ones on my normal list of early risers.  It was clear, to me at least, that folks needed something the shine a little light – a little earlier than normal.

Whether these folks in my neighborhood were decorating their homes early for Christmas for themselves, for their kids, or because the weather was a little nicer this year, I’ll never know for sure.  But what I do know is that this gift of a little extra light and joy is exactly what I need right now.  All the “Advent purists” need not remind me what season we are in, trust me, I know all about longing right now.  But I also need the promise that there is light somewhere, because it’s damn hard to see right now.

I hope that you are able to find some light in the world right now too.
 
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


 
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