The snow came overnight, the first real blanket of white this year. It arrived with the Winter Solstice as if some weather fairy took pity on us for the earthy brown we’ve sullenly marched past the last month. “Minnesotans need this to be in the mood,” the fairy must have said, and made the grey air clump up solid and sprinkle down.
It has been that kind of year. Normal people would be thankful for the warmth, but those who are used to magic expect more than a climate of easy survival. The cold is supposed to invigorate the northern world, bringing a stinging cheer which says, “Keep it moving, you have work to do!”
The rest of this season said to us, “It’s dark, it’s wet, it’s time for a nap. It’s time to stop.” And now, with the sprinkle of white melting around the edges, we will shortly.
I was going to write today on the War on Christmas – a mysterious invention of some media who seem to believe there is some organized effort to purge Christmas from our lives. I intended to research the origins in the Roman festival of Sol Invictus and the drunken brawl which Christmas always was in old England. I had a few juicy quotes lined up from the Puritans who even banned Christmas under Oliver Cromwell. I hoped to trace the decline of the day of St Stephen, patron saint of the poor, on the day after Christmas – a day which started as giving presents to the poor but gradually became a day to give presents to everyone, winding up as mere “Boxing Day” in the UK or becoming merged with Christmas itself in the US.
But none of that is important.
This was a very strange year in many ways. Some of the population was confronted by racism and recoiled through the sudden desire in the media to finally report the true lives of fear which far too many non-white people live through daily. Some of the population recoiled into racism, fueling a politics of hate we have not seen since George Wallace ran for President in 1968. It was as if everyone woke up and felt a need to describe the world, as they saw it, in a lengthy social media screed or sarcastic “meme”.
How did this come to happen? I fully believe social change moves as the derivative of financial change, the cosine to the sine of financial well being. As we shake ourselves out of the now 15 year long depression there is some energy in us to do more than simply survive and look for work. There is a spark inside which is reacting to more than a decade of dull, dreary quiet.
Waves are being made. Waves are being ridden. They aren’t waves of water, unfrozen in this dreary not-Winter but waves of light which move around the earth and around our lives faster than we can imagine.
Whether or not holiday sales meet expectations is not particularly important this year because expectations were set low by the weary parade of analysts. The truth is consumers aren’t buying as much as they used to because our definition of a good life has been worn smooth by the times we live in. It’s hardly the foundation of a recovery as we know it – it is the foundation of a recovery into something stronger and better than we can yet imagine.
So is the outcry which echoes around us – even the racism now openly expressed and undeniable. You have to diagnose the problem before it gets better and now we can see what really hurts our non-white, non-christian brothers and sisters.
What should a person do as the sleepy grey precipitates around us and the chants crystallize into action? Should we take to the streets and make ourselves known once more?
I say no. It’s Christmas, an interior day. A day to be indoors where it is warm with our own thoughts. A day to stop and let the holiday come. Because if we stop for a moment and count our blessings none of us could be filled with hate and perhaps even those most harshly affected by fear and hatred thrown at them or in them can pause and find courage.
Because courage is what we need. Courage to be kind and empathetic, courage to be at peace among chaos, courage to accept the blessings we all do share in this great and prosperous land.
May this snowfall cradle your life and give you the courage to be thankful for all we have.