Friday, December 11, 2009

Goodwill to all

I am in the middle of writing the few Christmas cards I’m sending out this year. I have two stacks of cards left over from years past, one red with an ornament motif and one white with a snow scene. Neither of them says “Merry Christmas,” so as I’m signing my name and wishing my loved ones joy this season, a big part of me is wondering how many recipients will be offended by my “secular” cards.

The War on Christmas.
The War on the War on Christmas.

This is the one and only thing that I dread about this time of year.

Mostly, I love this time of year. To me, the week of Thanksgiving through January 1 (or 2, or 6) is all special. I don’t think of Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s Day being isolated, separate holidays. I see it as a whole holiday season, where first, we are thankful, then we celebrate the birth of Christ, then we welcome the new year, all the while surrounding ourselves with people we love and memories we can cherish. We decorate our homes and offices with beautiful ornaments and lights. The weather turns cold, so we run inside to share cocoa and bake cookies. The spirit of giving helps us remember the poor like no other time of year. It's beautiful.

But there are also the stickers, buttons, and petitions that circulate this time of year, the ones complaining that there isn't enough (or too much) Jesus in our celebrations. We hear accounts of people fighting and suing over the placement of a nativity, or a Menorah, or a "holiday" tree. And it absolutely wears me out. How sad, that we bypass the joy of this season to fight over how we celebrate it.

I saw a Facebook group the other day called, "I say 'Merry CHRISTmas' not 'Happy Holidays.'"

I say "happy holidays" sometimes. Not because I don't love Jesus, or because I want to secularize Christmas, or because I am a mindless, empty-headed liberal afraid of offending anyone. I say "happy holidays" because, to me, there isn't just one holiday. I find myself in the midst of a season of celebrations, and I'd like to wish joy upon my fellow man.

I believe that Jesus' joy and peace came to all people, and I find it a terrible state of affairs that we can't accept one another's holiday greetings for the warm wishes behind them rather than the political-religious statements they make.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Time to Reboot

I've been really cranky at work this week.  (For those of you who don't know what I do, I spend 8 hours a day with a high school senior who has a behavioral disorder.  Sometimes it is rewarding, and other times it is extremely taxing.)  Tension is high, not least because we're in the no-man's-land between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And all week, my student has been pressing buttons and pushing boundaries, and after a while, it gets really old.

But I know that already.  I know that's a part of the disorder and it's a part of my job.  In order to be the love of Christ to this student, I have to look beyond the behaviors.  Usually, I do okay.  This week, not so much.

One reason I'm having trouble is because my head feels like it's a mess.  I've been reading some great books, listening to some great music, hearing some really good preaching and teaching, and having several wonderful conversations with various friends, on top of all the extraordinary experiences that come with being a wife and mother, and added to the anticipation of the Advent season, and I feel like I am just not getting any time to process it all.

In fact, I feel most frustrated by the knowledge that I have so very much to say that I can hardly bring myself to speak (or write, as the case may be).

When I was younger (I can say that now; I'm almost thirty!), I was perfectly content to ramble on without much thought, to work things out aloud, to experience life at a faster pace.

I feel like the older I get, the slower I want to move.  I need time to just sit and think about things.  Usually, my situation affords me that time.  But in November, I took a second job for the holiday season, and it has tipped the scales of time out of balance for me, and, as a consequence, I just feel scattered.

I hope that tomorrow night after work, I will get a chance to meditate a little and sort out some of this stuff.