One of the (many) things that made me into an atheist is this holiday.
Why is not every religious person in this country out giving coats to the homeless and visiting sick people in hospitals and old age homes? How can we spend so much money on iPads and cars and furs and jewelry when there is so much emotional pain and physical need all around us?
How can a holiday that is supposed to be about love be so much about material things and making people feel less-than-worthy if they do not get the best things, or cannot afford to give the best things?
But I have made peace with this holiday because for many of us it is about family, chosen or otherwise. I hope that is what it is about for you.
If you are with people, I hope they are people who make you feel special and loved and wanted.
If you are alone, as I have been on many Christmas Eves for various reasons planned and unplanned, I hope you can find some reasons — and we all have good reasons if we think about them long enough — to enjoy your own company.
I just walked by homeless people huddled in an unheated doorway on a bitterly cold Chicago night and wondered, “What if I had no place to go at the end of this walk? What if, at the end of this block instead of turning into my doorway of my warm condo building, I had to keep walking? And what if I had to do this every night?”
Some of you know that this move to Chicago has been very difficult for me for a lot of reasons. Yet after what I just saw, I feel lucky somehow. I try to remind myself of that whenever I feel like giving in to despair. It could be worse. Much worse.
And, if I ever need cheering up by something wondrously simple that reminds me that the world can be an amazing place, I sometimes watch things like this video of a dog playing piano and singing.
It won’t cure hunger or homelessness, but it is pretty fucking awesome nonetheless.
Happy holidays, everyone.