Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Morn: Advent's Mental Health Day

I know you want to turn away.  It is a hard image to see that you cannot then unsee.  It will be there with you forever.  Yes, that is a collapsed fruitcake.  I was cooking it.  You may remember that I do that to relax and get into the Christmas spirit or whatever.  It is on my blog.  Anyway, instead of sliding in a charming way from the loaf-pan, it exploded.  A big cloud of steam engulfed both bread and baker leaving these course chunks of leathery defeat.  I can keep this thing forever if I want.  Like the surface of the moon, it is too inhospitable for anything to grow.

I post it today not to celebrate my defeat but because this sad scene reflects the mood of many of us as we stumble toward Christmas.  We began with so many hopes and dreams.  We had lists. We had goals.  We told ourselves that the commercial juggernaut would not have our souls.  We believed that we could in some sense responsibly react to the horrors of the news this month while also maintaining a spirit of peace, hope, love...and whatever that other stupid candle is about.  You know...the pink one!  Grrrrr....

Everyone in my family gets the same cold the last week of Advent.  It is a tradition.  As I was doping up my son today so he could go to his last day of school before break, I realized how crazy things have been.  I cannot remember the last time I was home at night, for example.  There have been so many things going on.  Some of them were work--Pub Theology, Parish Committee, Bible Seminar--but the real kicker has been the combination of kid stuff and holiday stuff.  I cannot remember a time before holiday planning.  Everything points to the Christmas Eve services now.

Don't get me wrong.  This is a wonderful time.  However, if you are the sort of person who wants to sift through the surface crap of the season to find meaning and sustenance (and I know you are) then you are working an extra job.  It is 24/7, my friends.  It is a time of anticipation and preparation.  This means digging deep sometimes what with all the mess and confusion of what the world throws at us.  We feel that broken fruitcake, don't we.

You may have noticed that folks are a little sensitive these days.  In the past week or so I have seen grown, sane, mature adults get weepy at the slightest provocation.  I have seen people crack under the strain of deciding between green and red...for anything.  I have colleagues who most likely don't remember quite how to get from their homes to their church even though many of them live right next door to work.  Sure, some of my UU compatriots don't seem to know anything big is going on (and--brothers and sisters--you know I love you, right?) but that just makes it harder for the rest of us.  This is an exciting time.  This is a holy time but, dude, we are carrying quite a load right now.

Still, Christmas is a'coming.  It will be great.  We will give the kids their stockings and tell them not to go downstairs until we are good and ready.  Then we will sleep as long as we can.  We will have a big breakfast and sit around in our PJ's messaging folks on Facebook.  Yes, we will celebrate the symbolic (but obviously not actual) birthday of Jesus.  In fact, it will mean more for the struggle of these days.  It will be wonderful.  Christmas is a party after the discipline of Advent.  I, at least, am looking forward to being part of that party.  Twelve. Whole. Days.

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