Think of me as the waiter from Monty Python’s philosophy scene in “The Meaning of Life” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa0bCzwSNA0.
Would you care for something to talk about?
First, let’s go with the loaded stuff and how we can converse this holiday without offending.
Hah! Just kidding, there’s no way to talk about abortion or Rittenhouse or Arbery or Gosar or Omicron or vaccinations or any political topic without having conservative drunkle Barry get real quiet and real red and eventually blow up in the middle of the pie course. Yes, we should be able to talk about these things, yes, we will get to the point where we can talk about these things, just not yet. My advice is you can’t go wrong talking about sports and movies.
Better to keep it supportive and connected this year because no matter how you feel about the above issues, there’s always someone with the opposite opinion which is a good thing unless you have four more hours of holiday dinner left.
The blue Honda has been empty for weeks.
Every day when I ride my little Schwinn Typhoon cruiser to work I pass by a retirement community and usually there is an elderly blonde woman sitting in her blue Honda by herself, smoking. Sometimes I see this woman buying cigarettes and coffee at our local 7-11 but for the last few weeks the Honda has been empty and I fear the worst.
It brings up the topic that I will be talking about this holiday season and connects nicely to the Monty Python video above, simply put, why are we here?
It’s a very emotional time. COVID has taken what we know and turned it into what we don’t know plus just when we need to connect and combat common enemies, hate and anger are succeeding in pulling us further apart. But it’s the holiday season, time to get back to basics.
You are a miracle and it’s time to start acting like one. Don’t believe me? Go put a sweater on and walk around your neighborhood. Look deeply at the green hills and the orange and red leaves and the bright blue sky then take a deep breath and say, “This is good, I want more of this”. Feel a little better? Thinking about how it might be nice to catchup with drunkle Barry because he’s kinda funny and really pretty harmless. OK, acceptance and connection, both a good start.
Now, make an outstanding meal together, my favorite part of my school’s 17th Thanksgiving meal was eating outside and seeing students without masks for the first time all year. Remember masks, those things we used to wear all the time but now we only have to wear inside except when we’re eating or drinking or we forget until the person behind the counter Coronacorrects us.
Well, teachers and students never stopped wearing them and if you think connecting with students is tough normally, try doing it when they can’t fully understand you and can only see from the bridge of your nose up. The good news is that I can stick my tongue out at students when they make mistakes (kidding), the bad news is 90% of my job is connecting with students which makes the classroom environment challenging.
There were no tears during the “What are you thankful for” portion of the Thanksgiving meal (yes, we went around in a circle and the 40 students mostly said friends and family but some went deeper which was nice). You can’t force emotion, especially now.
We have to accept whatever people are capable of doing this holiday season. Accept the politics, accept the little jabs, accept the differences, and sure, if drunkle Barry is offensive, correct him but don’t get pulled into the swamp, too many people swimming there already.
Then think about what your life is and what you need to put an honest smile on your face tomorrow. Who and what do you miss? What will get you through the journey so that when it’s over you are satisfied.
Do you care what happens to the Sonoma Developmental Center? Then write and send a proposal. Do you like helping kids? Volunteer or mentor or start by writing a note and baking some cookies for that neighbor kid who you see doing nice things.
But make it matter this holiday season. We are all hurting, lost, upset, frustrated, but the way to make it better is to connect and support one another. Do stuff, real stuff that gets you out of the house or invites real people to your house. Go for long walks with drunkle Barry and find common ground, put a note on the blue Honda that says “I hope you have a great holiday season.”
Reach out, connect, celebrate and please whenever possible, do that random act of kindness because this year (and I would argue every year) the holidays are not about getting presents but being present.