At 3:07 p.m. on a Monday afternoon, while sighing restlessly alongside other anxious Target customers, I quit Christmas.
I realized I had ruined Christmas. Straight messed it up. Mangled it. Done it a disservice. Boxed it and botched it in a way I never thought possible.
And so there, with my hands full of snowman-decrepit cards that prove to be the only thing left when you shop the week before and a slew of sweaters I never actually needed, I placed my basket on the floor, and I walked out of the store. I quit Christmas on the spot.
(This is the point in the post where I apologize profusely to Target store employees for being “that” girl and overdramatizing my quitting of Christmas to the point of leaving stale merchandise in the middle of the floor for y’all to pick up. I am sorry. Very sorry. It was necessary for the completion of this blog post, though.)
The last few days have carried a melody of heartbreak that I never knew existed.
The Newtown tragedy is just thirty miles away. Hands I’ve once touched entangled in the devastation of an atrocious shooting. Twenty children pulled out from this earth before they ever learned the fine art of tying shoes and spelling bees. Our worry heightened. Our safety shattered. Our conversations inflated with gun laws and mental health, and someone always trying to edge out the last word on Facebook, when we all might need to hush and stay silent for a while.
The tragedy huddled us closer. The closeness of holidays made our hearts a bit weaker. Because lights are hung. And stockings won’t be filled. And Tonka trucks and toy dolls will stay in the closet or be returned to the stores instead of being wrapped and tucked beneath an evergreen. It’s too much of an image to handle. It is a watercolor of the mind that will break you on the spot if you think too long of it.
But why now and why this season did we think that it was time to hold one another closer? And send cards in the mail. And hang ivy. And sing songs. And understand this mythical “reason for the season” that becomes all too cluttered by our shopping experiences and to-do lists that grow longer as the holidays grow near. And, why now do we shower the children with love and toys. And we scour the world for that perfect way to say “I love you” with a diamond or pearls. And we finally take a little time off. And we breathe for five minutes before we start furiously plotting a newer year.
Why now? Wasn’t this the forgotten purpose of our yesterday? Wasn’t this the reason for even being here in the first place?
Lately, I think if Christmas had legs, it would walk right out the door. It wouldn’t come back.
I think if Christmas had fingers, it would head to AT&T, buy a phone, and create a Facebook account. It would pounce up, screaming in ALL CAPS on the endless statuses of people complaining or forgetting their children to voice their latest of opinions and say, “Get off the dang phone and just go clutch someone, would ya?”
We are in desperate need of clutching. Of holding one another closer in a way that was fiercer than yesterday. Of facing one another to admit how broken we are. And admit how we screwed up yesterday, but, as long as Tomorrow comes to visit in her bright red cape, we should start over. We should be closer. We should not worry so much about our image or our status or our need to always be right and just unplug long enough to see the need in one another’s eyes. It’s there. It’s living. It’s bright. And it stitches every carol with a feeling of falsity. Because our troubles won’t be miles away. And we have to just face that. We have to just work with that. And, whether we think it or not, we are strong enough to overcome that and make it through the troubles.
It is not a season to be merry and bright so much as it is a season to finally admit to someone else, “Look, I need you. I need you on every one of my calendar days. And I love you. And I should not have waited for the stores to don red and green just to write that in a card to you. And I’m scared. Really. Petrified. Really. Because our world seems pretty broken. And I realize I cannot fix that. But I want to do better for you. Is that ok with you? I. Want. To. Do. Better. In. Loving. You.”
Hannah Brencher is a writer, speaker, and creator pinning her passion to projects that bring the human touch back into the digital age. After spending a year writing and mailing over 400 love letters to strangers across the world, Hannah launched The World Needs More Love Letters in August 2011—a global organization fueled by volunteer “letter writers,” now in fifty states and forty-seven countries. She’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Oprah, Glamour, the White House Blog, and is currently a global finalist for the TED2013 Global Talent Search (watch the TED Talk). You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
*Photo by Loyal O.A.K..