Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch
I steal away for a few moments to write these words between the flickering of the tree lights, the sound of a four-year-old yelling “puddles!”, and the slam of the door as she escapes. The toddler slams his favorite step stool around the office, determined to involve himself in my activities. As soon as I begin a new activity, the sick six-year-old pleads for his ear drops. In the midst of it all, I pause in the excitement of a husband home from work on vacation, the promise of days, parties and devotions yet to come.
“Breakfast is almost ready; don’t get too wet!” he yells through the window to the children I do not dare see in this state. I want to write. I want to pursue the passion and dream that feeds my soul.
I like to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It is not a show I recommend to everyone due to some content and a lot of bad language, but it explores themes we rarely see considered in modern media surrounding women, their art, and their personal lives. The second season circled around the question, to fully give yourself to your art, must you lose everything else? Ultimately the creators of the program decide, yes, you cannot have it all, you must give up your commitment to others in your life, the last semblance of normalcy you possessed to move within the circles of civilians. It is artfully done, and I look forward to the following season to see the fallout of such a decision because, in the end, I disagree.
Aristotle told us in Politics, “man is by nature a political animal.” Political in this sense means men and women develop their potential and realize their natural end in a social context. That is the good life to which the title of this column refers.
The Catholic Christian Meta hold that human beings are interpersonally related and this is integral to who we are.
“No man is an island entire itself,” said the poet and preacher John Donne, “every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
And even more seasonally, Jacob Marley exclaims in response to Scrooge’s excuse for Marley’s indifference to others’ wellbeing while he lived, “Mankind was my business!”
Why does this season matter so much to others? Not everyone believes in Jesus or God or Christianity. Yet it is so widely celebrated and loved.
I have thought long about the sensory aspects. Nostalgia wisps in the air at the sights and sounds of Christmas: twinkling lights, cinnamon-scented candles, peppermint mochas, and in Hughson, N’Sync and the honk of a fire engine horn.
Ask the average person on the street and most will tell you this is the time of year to look out for the little guy, to be together, to care about each other.
The man collecting donations for charity tells our famous Mr. Scrooge, “At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time…We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.”
Christians celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, not merely a man, but God Incarnate. It marks the change in salvation history, the moment when God entered time to save men and women from their sins, opening the gates of Heaven. It is the moment that begins the journey of the All-Powerful telling the lowly, you are worth the time, the sacrifice, the pain.
You matter. You are not alone. You are not forgotten.
Thus the message of togetherness rings through the season, with all its chaos, to-do lists, cooking making, present wrapping, leading up to Christmas day. If you celebrate this time of year, mark the meaning for you, hold onto the moments, allow yourself to miss this who are no longer here, recall their presence, tell their stories. Christmas comes by once a year.