It's been a busy last few weeks with hosting my family for Thanksgiving and cramming in as many possible holiday activities in since then. I've written in the past about how my perfectionism comes out during holidays and I'd venture to say I'm not alone in that. It's not that I tell myself "I want everything to be perfect" but I think the massive amount of effort perfectionists put into the holidays has to do with wanting to feel something. I could be wrong. Perfectionism is most definitely about being in control and having things your way. But I think perhaps the obsessive level of activity and wanting everything to be "just so" also relates to our desperate desire for the holidays to make us feel a certain way. For me, I feel a sense of anxiety as the days race towards December 25th because I want to make sure that at some point before it's all over, it actually "feels" like Christmas. If you're too busy, it's not fun. It's stressful and even if the activities seem festive, your heart is hard as a rock. And if you're not busy enough, it doesn't feel magical, like it's any other busy time, but not Christmas. But the streets are crowded and sometimes annual activities are different than last year and suddenly you wake up and just can't do one more thing. And so you stay home and another day passes on the Advent calendar. Tick. Tock.
I want to feel magic. I want my faith to be rekindled in a way that makes everything right and clear and good. I want to be a child again where you could hear a tale woven from fables and it made sense in a way that unicorns and glitter and rainbows just work. I want something to be pure. Compromise is so overrated. I want hope, desperately. I want to believe we are good and can work together and heal this world. I could use some joy. But most of all, I seek peace. The world needs peace in a big way right now. But my adult brain isn't able to get lost from reality, not really. While I was warm in my car this morning with my kids getting our tree, I was thinking about the freezing cold people at Standing Rock. And when I was in a church surrounded by at least a thousand Christians singing about Jesus, I realized there were exactly 3 black people in the room. THREE. Last week my Reverend reminded us that things weren't so tidy in the world when Jesus came either. The Jews were living in occupied territory. Their king was born in a barn to a teenage girl (who is a total bad ass, BTW). There is something glorious about this time of year for sure (the white people Christmas still made me tear up a few times) but there is alongside it a darkness, a reality that refuses to be glossed over. That people are hurting. Some of us are cold and hungry. And a lot of the joy isn't being passed out freely but with strings attached to belief systems and color and class systems. I know that sounds terrible, like I've become a cynic and the magic has died within me. I don't think that's the case. I think the more we become socially aware (and I know I have a long, long road ahead of me - I was still shocked Trump won so that says something for sure), the more we live in the duality of light alongside dark not light against dark. The world is not the binary system we were raised to live in - clear, tidy, with battle lines drawn. The lines are within me and you and everyone around. We are the light and the dark, not just on the outside but on the inside, deep within. Yes there is beauty and glory and life. But there is greed and darkness and pain as well.
I think my black and white brain has been wrestling with the gray ever since we lost our ministry work 5 years ago. Now I live in the gray all the time. I think I might be better for it. Maybe magic is overrated. I've had magic sneak in the nooks and crannies of heartbreak. I see it in the beautiful music and my crazy children and in a killer conversation I had with my dad last week (more to come). I see it and feel it around me and within me. But if magic seeks to have us sit on our laurels while others aren't given the same level of escape, maybe it's not really the goal. Perhaps the holiday goal isn't to have the perfect table, but to have a full one, a bigger one, with more diversity, fewer rules and a whole lot of grace.