Joel and I had already been slouching towards Bethlehem this Holiday season, as December is the busiest work month for both of us. Then Sandy Hook happened, and we were beset by grief, fear, angry desire for change, and a longing for Christmas so deep we are almost sunk by it.
I wrote a piece for The Equals Record a week and a half ago, which was published today. It is about how overstimulating the Holiday season can be for a small person, and how as parents and adults we need to be sensitive to the overwhelming nature of this time for all of us, and take a step back to feel our own subversive feelings about it, as well. You can read that piece by clicking here.
It seems even more apt now, though I wrote it before the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred. We should still rejoice this Holiday season – we really, really need it – but we need to take even more time for reflection and grieving than usual. Therefore, I give you full permission to skip parties if you need to, to cancel your plans to shop at Costco and Target and get everything at the tiny shop closest to your house, and take lots of walks when you are with your entire extended family later this month. We need to take care of ourselves as much as we take care of each other right now.
In the midst of all this grieving and meaning-making, Olive met Santa at church last Wednesday. She followed him around all night, calling him “The Panta” and asking, “How he know my name?” When he asked her what she wanted for Christmas, first she said, “I want a Christmas.” Oh yes, baby girl, you’re going to get a Christmas. When he asked again, she said, “I want… a purple!” I really, really like where her head’s at with this request. I mean, who DOESN’T want a purple?
I am clinging to sweet moments like this one right now. Last Thursday, went to a really warm, lovely Holiday party for the Golden Gate Mothers Group Magazine I’m writing for now, and then wore that experience like a cloak all weekend long. My husband and I had a really fabulous date on Saturday, where we talked about the year and enjoyed delicious Korean food without needing to wipe down a toddler or tell her to use her “inside voice”. These little “time outs” from grieving and the inexorable bustle and anxiety of this season are not just enjoyable. They are essential to our peace of mind.
On the one hand, it is really, unbearably sad that this national tragedy happened around Christmas time. It is going to be a very sad holiday for many families in our nation. However, I also feel really glad that the season in which we welcome God into our world as a little child is coming in one week. We need Christmas now, more than ever.
If Santa had asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I hope I’d have the creativity and simplicity to proclaim that I wanted a “purple” as well. But I think I might settle for peace. I’m going to set about creating that peace for myself inwardly, since outer peace is not promised us. We must find it within.