MMB

Friday, December 4, 2015

Christmas Socks; Finding Meaning, Owning Christmas

In the corner of my dinning room, in a plastic white garbage bag with bits of duct tape coving the holes sits my old fake christmas tree. On the coffee table in my living room lies a box, also worn, and duct taped, but open with my grandma's  old nativity. I have tried for 4 days now to get myself to un pack them, and set them up as I do every year, but I cant. The action seems empty and meaningless, and this year I just can't do empty and meaningless, even for the most beautiful and happy of my traditions. Too many have died, too many have suffered, too many are homeless, too many are cold, to many are grieving. I want to do christmas, but I can't just do it. It has to mean something. See www.SafeXMas.com

Up until about 10 am this morning, I was struggling to try and force christmas, but even Celine Dion, my favorite Christmas album, couldn't do it for me. I started talking to my friend about it. I was angry at that meaningless empty tree in the corner, the nativity, beautiful, my grandmas, but still just not connected enough to my life for me to put it out. And those giant stockings my family do. I can stand in them and they go to my shoulder. They are huge. But I wasn't going to put it up this year. What's the point, what difference does it make.

Yesterday I had a deep thinking moment about Jesus. Jesus is the reason for the season, as they say, and have for much of my life. So I asked myself, what does it matter to me? Jesus, this season. Do I believe in Christ? Yes. Does it matter? Yes. Well why? Why do I care?

On a year like this where so many I love have died it feels like it should be redemption of the dead, but it's not. The dead are always with me in my heart, and a future reunion would be nice, but it still doesn't  at this time carry  that deep meaning in my soul it once did when death happened a lot in my life at a younger year. Next my mind thought of redemption from sin, which is great, but I didn't connect with that either. So I asked myself to ignore all the answers everyone else gives, and to dig into my own heart and find my own answer. Who was Jesus Christ? What does he mean to you.

My favorite scripture about Jesus has always and still is Alma 7:11-13, in the book of mormon. "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me."

That scripture kind of talks about everything I've mentioned. But the part I love, the part that sticks out to me is the part that says
" he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

In a year that has been so beautifully rich for me, full of my greatest joys, peace and happiness, but also so full of deep pain, sadness and sorrow, not for me alone but for the whole world, for my every community, what I see as the most beautiful thing about Christ, is his compassion, his empathy, his willingness to suffer every pain, and every sorrw, to walk in my shoes, and your shoes, in the homeless veteran, in the LGBT Youth rejected by their believing parents, in the shoes of the Syrian refugee, so that he would know how to truly love us, care for us, comfort us, and empower us to love and care for, to understand one another, in experiences  we have never known, experienced nor understood. That purity of love, that trueness  of friendship, that is why Christ matters to me right now, that is why I love him, that is what I want to reflect in my Christmas, that is the only thing that can mean anything to me right now. Love, kindness, compassion, empathy.

As I processed  this while talking to my friend, I told her those things had to be the key to my Christmas this year, not the movies of my childhood, or the traditions of my fathers, or the cutsie  or inspirational traditional music. Those things are all beautiful, and lovely, and they have their place, but not for me, not this year.

I had an idea. If that tree is going to go up, I have to decorate it different. Not with my traditional lithuanian ornaments, though I dearly love them, but with the faces of those I love and those I don't know that need me to do something to reach out, to make the pain a little less in this world, even if it's just remebering that they exist, that they are human, and that they ought to be loved.

Next I decided I must have my own nativity, I must make something personally meaningful to me. So randomly I chose to get plain matryoshka  dolls, and I shall paint the creche that my heart needs. I don't know what it will look like, but it will be mine, and it will mean something profound, to me.

Next I thought of that big ridiculously massive stocking, I didn't want to hang it, and have it empty or full of anything. I felt angry again. And I thought, how can you fill that with love and compassion? How can you make it mean something? If you cant, don't hang it. And I thought. Randomly the voice of Bean popped into my head. "Christmas socks!" I giggled at the goofy memory of this cartoonish character gleeful with child like joy christmas morning at pulling nothing more than the other half of a pair of socks out of his Christmas stocking, literally the other sock.  And it reminded me, I have some friends that were once homeless, they have mentioned the great need of homeless people for socks. If your feet are wet or cold, I thought, really there is nothing in the world better than warm dry socks. Me and a friend had discussed this a week ago, and how we should maybe get a few pairs of fuzzy socks for the homeless, because we truly loved these socks warming our toesies  on cold winter days.

Suddenly the greatest idea I have ever had was born. I shall fill the giant stocking with socks for the homeless. I know people that work a lot visiting homeless encampments, and helping out with various charities, a quick text and I was assured my Christmas socks could be directed to organizations  and people who can get those socks to those that truly need them. And operation christmas socks was born, and my Christmas spirit shot through the roof. No, I still don't want to listen to your Christmas music, still enjoying Adele over here, but I am genuinely excited for christmas, and for christmas socks.  Anyone who wants to join in, fill your stockings with socks, and then find a place they are needed and empty that stocking. Or if you live by me, help me fill my giant one. It's something small, but maybe it can mean something, so I'm gonna do it.

I'd like to pause a small moment, before I end this long post. I have some really amazing friends. Two of them have been deeply inspiring to me I  their efforts. One of my friends started something this year called safeXmas, she is flying to utah and inviting all the LGBT people who don't have a home or feel safe going home, or welcome for christmas, so they have a place to go, to feel loved  and safe on christmas. Her idea has deeply touched and warmed my heart, even though I have a safe and happy Christmas of my own planned. See www.safeXmas.com

My other inspiring friend , a columbine  survivor, is creating an organization, and a Web site with tools, and things to help trauma survivors. In light of all the shootings and things this year, I find that much needed  and very helpful. She is starting a fundraiser soon to get things up and running and bring that vision to life. It's called resilient hope. Check out the website, spread word of its existance. http://resilienthope.org

Any way, that Christmas for me this year, I am excited  that I owned it, that something pushed me to. Examine what could make christmas meaningful to me personally this year. My dream, shouldn't be your dream. You should find your Christmas dream. If it's connecting to your traditions, or watching buddy the elf, or singing loud for all to hear, go do that. Go do Christmas for you. I think what matters the most this time of year is finding a way to connect to that spirit of hope and joy in the darkest of days, even if you don't believe in christ, or don't celebrate christmas, in dark days finding something that brings warmth, joy and love is what we all need, to carry us through to light and sun. If you do believe in christ, I encourage you to not fall back on the "right" answers this christmas time, but truly search your soul and determine for yourself alone what that means to you.

Any way, that's enough of my ramblings. Happy Holidays. Peace is my goal, love is my journey. Peace and love to all.