I’ve been trying to figure out how to put into words something that has really, truly bothered me this past week. I’ve figured out that I just can’t do that in any tasteful way. I can’t describe how someone’s calculated nastiness has scratched something deep inside of me. I will say, though, that while it did happen, I’m glad it did. I’m glad it did because it caused me to think deeply about friendship. It caused me to think about how I treat people. It caused me to consider what it means to be a friend when you’re nearing 40 years old. It means considering what this season is really about.
What I can say is this – the bigger picture is just that. In the grand scheme of things, there is so much more than this rather small annoyance for me. While certain people waste hours of energy hatching hurtful plans, other friends of mine are considering a first holiday without a parent. They’re wrestling with how to deal with the ache of the hole that can’t quite be filled during this time of year. Other friends are struggling financially, and are trying to weigh buying Christmas gifts for their children versus paying their electric bill. Families all over this country are missing loved ones this Christmas. Some families are experiencing change and loss in other ways. For me, it’s having the mental capacity to open a Christmas card from my mother she barely even signed and later hearing from other family members about the lovely notes she’s written them. I chalk that up to just who she is, but guess what? I’ve had enough therapy to know that that is the only place I have in my heart for feeling hurt this holiday season. I will not tolerate any hurtful treatment from others.
This time of year, we don’t really talk about the birth of Jesus in this house. What we do talk about is how families make traditions around Christmastime, and that there is comfort in the sameness of the holidays each year. Whether that sameness happens in a church sanctuary or around a game of scrabble depends on the family. For my own family, the emphasis during this time of year is treating people kindly. It means talking with my girls about having empathy for others. For giving what we can when we can. For including those who don’t have a place to be. That this season can be a time for being hurtful in any way simply confuses and astounds me. But it’s just another teachable moment for my girls: Be kind. Don’t be an asshole. It’s pretty much as simple as that.