This little Christmas tree is sitting on my desk this morning, a reminder from P that the holidays are with us, that joy is there even beneath the piles of work. A gift of promise and hope from the man who loves me best.
I adore it. Every tinsly, sparkling, artificial bit. The tree once belonged to his grandmother, a woman he called “Monday,” and while I never knew her, her presence is close in this tree.
In a time, not too long ago, I would have spurned this little crooked tree. I’m a dedicated fan of fresh trees, cut or dug from earth to scent the air for this season. So I spent many a year being snobbish about artificial trees.
Until Monday’s trees – we have a second one with fiber-optic lights downstairs – came to my tiny farmhouse during the Christmas P and I were dating. He brought me that little tree that glows from white to pink to purple when my house was too small – and too sad with grief over Mom’s death – to fit anything bigger, anything more traditional.
That little glowing piece of plastic brought the season to me, and I let go the belief that “I will only have fresh trees” in my living room.
I’m seeing it a lot – these jokes and pronouncements on social media about how people are “unfriending” or “blocking” people with whom they disagree on things, hard things in particular – like the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice or the presence of undocumented immigrants in the States. I also see those same “boundaries” established over things as miniscule and stupid as whether or not we say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas.”
I understand it – I get the impulse to push away that which is hard and that which “offends.” I also know that sometimes it it necessary to shunt those discussions aside because they are truly too painful, too hard, too real to be abiding through the bits and bytes of a screen.
But mostly, though, those pronouncements make me sad because they isolate us from each other and they keep us entrenched firmly in our own perspectives, unwilling to hear another, unable to be changed by the people we have “accepted” – quite literally – into this part of our lives.
A wise friend once told me that my blog is my living room. I can do and say what I want here, and I believe that to be true in the most profound way. I do not accept hatefulness or disrespect here in this space, on my social media pages, or in our stone and wood living room. But beyond that, everyone is welcome, no matter your perspective, no matter your level of understanding about a topic, no matter how profoundly you and I may disagree. You are welcome here.
I have had to learn the gift of this beautiful, little, lime green tree – to see the way it glows and sparkles quietly where it stands. It has penetrated my heart, softened it just a bit, the way a friend does in time.
It’s welcome here every year, in my living room like light and breath and the lilt of grace.
What is your practice when people disagree with you about things on which you think and feel strongly? How do you engage in those disagreements and with the people who bring them to your life?