Black Friday, Cyber Monday and a host of other buying opportunities abound at this time of the year. Then there are the charities. Tis the season for the big “ask” because tis the season AND its tax write off time. So, listen to those little bells in the malls and all of those free stamps and gifts that you get in the mail from us non-profits. Tis the Season!
Then it is the social season. Preballs, festive gatherings, office parties, the social calendars fill up. If that isn’t enough there is some great entertainment that so often rolls into town about now from the classics to the bawdy it is all laced with yuletide schizophrenia. Then there are the Seasonal correctives that come from on high and I don’t mean heaven. Kwanza correctness, Chanukah hutzpah, and by golly we have to keep Christ in Christmas. I personally would like to see Christ in more than Christmas but that is just me.
Yet, for me in the middle of this craziness, I’ve already had a great time at Winter Wonderland which was a delightful evening dedicated to raising funds for … you guessed it non-profit service organizations. So, no this is not a harangue or a “bah humbug” about this time of year. I like seeing the Christmas lights as much as anyone. They are often lovely or at times whimsical. I like eggnog as much as anyone just not coffee flavored nog! Really! I even like the smell of fresh greens in the church or a home; just not our home with our fire retardant pre-lit collapsible tree. I love saying mass at midnight on the Feast of the Incarnation and seeing the smiling faces, somewhat drunk faces, the humble faces, all of those faces seeking tradition or faith or simply making the picture of Christmas complete. I love it.
But haven’t we all contributed to some form of hyper commercialization when it comes to “The Holiday Season?” Isn’t it a bit over the top? I wish that we could all slow down a bit and become just a tad more mindful. So what is there to be mindful about at this time of the year beyond “Seasons Greetings?”
Several years ago a Social Worker asked that I put together a service for those who have lost loved ones recently. The worship service was scheduled for the Longest Night which is on or about December 21st. A few people showed up and most of them in deep sorrow. You see the schizophrenia of the season seems to bury folks like his. We all get so caught up in the ‘good times,’ pretend or otherwise, that some beautiful but hurting people get left on the side lines. This can and is a very hard time for many folks. It can be a time when a lonely person feels the loneliest.
Imagine a kid who came out, let’s say this past summer, and was kicked out of the house. Summer isn’t too bad. There are a lot of warm places to go. It’s party time. A few tricks, maybe a hustle or two there, but it’s all good. Then that first cold snap of winter comes on and the evenings come early and shadows begin to lengthen. No Turkey for this young lad this Thanksgiving. Hell what is there to give “thanks” for? But the clubs are open the streets in New Orleans still give comfort “screw home and parents and friends. They hate me anyway.” Then it starts, pretty lights and he’s standing on the outside. A 21st century match girl. There is talk of happiness and joy and of a baby being born and gifting and re-gifting and food all around. But he’s on the outside. He even stands at the margins when THE Tree is lit in St. Louis Square or along Canal Street.
So, perhaps you will see this young guy. Maybe more than a cocktail and meal is in order here maybe some time and talk might help. Maybe a bit of time to reach out more than a chance at some cheap sex or drugs or even a fancy illusion or two. But more than this kid there are others. Two lovers who lived well together for years and one is no longer in this world but the other is. How does he or she handle this moment of aloneness? How might you offer some quiet time that recognizes loss while not permitting abandonment and singular marginalization?
In the midst of the frenzy my friends: stop! Take stock in who and what is going on around you. Drink in the cheer as it surfaces but be available to those who are in another not so delightful place. You can be their Christmas gift by simply allowing them both the space to brood and the significant presence of caring. How that works out is up to you.
Now in the spirit of “The Season” here is my pitch to you. So, if you really need to be embroiled in the harness of gifting and running up that credit card you will likely do some of that on Amazon. Please consider using Amazon “SMILE” which will work with your Prime account and designate St. Anna’s as your charity. Or, maybe you have purchased all that you care to and the stock market has been incredibly good to you St. Anna’s is saying “tax write off.” So, let’s jump into the frenzy and be mindful and show charity of spirit.
Until next time….