By Ashely Schneider This year’s Christmas is shaping up to be a quiet one. We opted out on a tree and have yet to firm up any plans. With family on the other side of the country, it’s just the two of us here in Oregon. My husband actually has to work on Christmas, so the past few days have been sad for me as I picture myself alone in our house on a day that’s meant to be cheerful and merry.
I’ve given myself a number of pity parties full of Neil Young songs (Helpless is my go-to), chocolate, bad movies, and tears. Deep down, I know that the emptiness I feel is nothing compared to the pain and suffering others are experiencing. I can’t help but think of heart broken families in Newtown, Connecticut, soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, or men and women living on the streets.
Don Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, says it perfectly: The overwhelming majority of time I spend thinking about myself, pleasing myself, reassuring myself, and when I am done there is nothing to spare for the needy. Six billion people live in this world, and I can only muster thoughts for one. Me.
So today, I have decided to put on my big girl pants and do something good for others this season. I’ve signed up to volunteer at a local church where we’ll be serving meals to 200+ homeless people on Christmas Day. I’m not accustomed to spending the holidays this way, but I’m certain it’s the right thing to do. Perhaps in this quiet time of my life, as I wait for new things to happen, my thoughts have been centered too much on me. By choosing to let the spirit and meaning of Christmas live in my heart, I can turn to face the needs of others and focus on bringing them joy.
We believe we can find more joy in the holidays by squashing the little voice that tells us bright spirits and good cheer are only possible when we’re perfect. The magic of this time of year comes from connecting with loved ones near and far, reminding ourselves of all we have to be thankful for, and . . . covering everything in twinkling white lights.
We’re embracing our present lives—foibles and all—so we can spend more time drinking egg nog and less time worrying we’re not good enough. Imperfect is the new black; wear it with pride.