I used to be one of those people. You know, those people who have all the rules about holiday mash-ups. No jack-o-lanterns with turkeys with Christmas trees. Get through one holiday before moving on to the next one. I used to carry my Christmas cds with me to my parents’ house at Thanksgiving just so I could play them full volume on the drive home – AFTER we’d feasted on turkey and dressing and sweet potato casserole. After Santa had made his appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
I used to have all those rules, too. But not this year. Not today. No, today, I needed a little Christmas. I needed light to break through the darkness heralding a message of hope and love. I needed to hear the sounds of angels singing, “Peace, goodwill on earth.”
In my own season of grief following my dad’s death, I’ve been palpably aware of the sadness around me. Being in touch with the fragility of life – Dad’s, mine, yours, theirs – I can’t help but be more in tune with others’ grief. My heart aches for Paris, for Beirut, and Baghdad, for Kenya and South Sudan, for those whose reasons to grieve never make the news or warrant a hashtag on social media.
It’s easy to get caught up in the media frenzy surrounding global tragedy, to ride its wave until it dissipates or shifts to the next big news story. But, for those involved, the pain doesn’t dissipate with the media coverage. The survivors, family and friends of those most directly in the wake of destruction are still picking up the pieces long after the news of their event is “old.” Their grief goes deeper and farther than manipulated profile pictures and retweeted hashtags.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate displays of support, no matter how small they may seem. And, I’m uncomfortably aware of their inadequacy.
So, this morning, I tuned into Sufjan Stevens’ Holiday station on Pandora, and I got myself ready for church to the sounds of Christmas (two whole weeks before Thanksgiving!).
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
Forget the rules. Go after your message of hope. Seek out your light in the darkness. We all need a little Christmas (even in November).