Because we’re human and being human, no one is immune.
Today it’s raining. Tomorrow it will rain again. And the day after that.
It’s grey, cold and wet.
Not the kind of rain that comes down hard and in sideways sheets with the force that destroys umbrellas, soaks in seconds, slows traffic to a crawl, and is accompanied by a furious thrashing of windshield wipers.
No this is a miserable, incessant, dark, drab, depressing drizzle – the kind that drips down your collar because you forgot your cap.
Tomorrow will be the same with a forecast that doesn’t suggest much of a change anytime soon.
And yet, for all this bah humbug weather, it’s the Christmas season.
Lights twinkling, sleigh-bells ringing, shoppers bustling, you know the drill.
It’s the hap-happiest season of all.
So why don’t all feel hap-happier?
That was the New York Times debate question as to why people aren’t happier during the holidays.
Among the debaters invited to share their thoughts was Erin Jackson, stand-up comic, who suggested that despite the plethora of joyous festivities available to, well, bring joy, people are glum because, for example, “our team wasn’t bowl eligible.” Or “because we slaved over that hot stove for two days cooking that meal, and not one of those ingrates volunteered to do the dishes.”
Fortunately, we don’t have ingrates in our family. A daughter, the day following Thanksgiving, returned and did all the dishes.
Darren M. McMahon, another contributor to the Times debate, said “Bah Humbug is a perfectly human response.” McMahon, in addition to being a professor of history at Florida State, is author of “Happiness: A History” and points to history as evidence of the mixed blessings of Christmas.
“Christians had long marked the birth of their savior with glad tidings, of course, just as Jews had every reason to remember fondly at Hanukkah a victory over persecution.
“But the rejoicing had always been tempered for believers: The good news of Christ’s birth by his death; the light of the menorah by the darkness of other trials.”
Believer or not, bowl-eligible or not, two things are true for all of us especially at this time of year when the presents we ordered are pilfered from our porch.
The first truth we hold in common: there are thieves among us.
It is a thief that steals our joy. It is a thief that robs us of remembering what matters – our family for example even when surrounded by them and presents are exchanged.
It is a thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy.
That’s what thieves do.
It’s reality. It’s the world we live in.
In browsing the Internet, I came across a website that at first, I thought was spelled Centerring. In actuality it’s Centering, one ‘r’ not two. The Centering Corporation has “resources for grieving children, teens, adults, bereaved parents, infant loss, grief after a loved one competes suicide, illness, and pet loss.”
That pretty much includes all of us.
At one time or another we will find ourselves in the center of the ring – bloodied, battered, bruised – unrecognizable as the heretofore imagined undefeated hero, the happily-living-ever-after princess.
Life, rather, is sometimes brutal, raw, blood-and-rain soaked.
There are no words that seem to help the one in the center of the ring at such times. Anything that is said – even through well-meant – can sound hollow, trite, insincere.
That said – that you said it; that card – that you cared enough to send it; that PDA (public display of affection) demonstrated by the hug in the hallway when you wouldn’t accept ‘I’m fine’ in answer to your question ‘how are you’, do you know how much that matters to the one in the arena?
It matters this much, and it’s the second truth we hold in common, not only that there are thieves among us, but how blessed, how thankful, how – in this Christmas season – joyful, as in true happiness, we are and can be, and can return to be, when surrounded by those who reach out to us as if we were family.
Which, being human, and therefore related, we are.
Happy holidays and Merry Christmas from ours to yours.