Listening to the old Christmas songs, I was reminded of how Christmas felt when I heard these songs as a child of 10, the words and the feelings were all about something out there that was everywhere and somehow going to show up in our living room. It seemed that everyone was included all through the city and in my neighborhood in Norwood, Massachusetts. It was as if the whole world was in the process of this magic.
Our family would drive long distances to our grandparents, and the Christmas songs on the radio kept us company. The sights along the roads and byways were all a variation of candy cane colors and bright lights. Everyone was in on the conspiracy it seemed. Where we stopped for gas, the Howard Johnson stop mid way where we always got the fries and burgers with the cheery waitresses with the red and green ribbons on their shirts all were an indication that there was this great goodness that was called Christmas that we all shared. It was something outside the boundaries of our homes and families, but would ultimately spill into our lives. The picture of the world with the Santa Claus from the North Pole coming into our homes on Christmas Eve was one part of the experience, but the every day exchanges of Christmas greetings for the weeks before gave the real sense of this shared phenomena.
It began weeks before at school, in church and in each other's homes where we would see the trees appear, the lights go on at night. Fireside Theater, I love Lucy, all three stations on TV would feature their "christmas story." Those stories always had a theme of goodness shared, a magical moment where a stranger would be given the food, the helping hand, the love in an unexpected circumstance. The "Miracle on 34th Street " and "It's a Wonderful Life" gave us a frame of reference that who and what would make our Christmas unique each year. The goodness of the world and humanity was the shared experience renewing the joy of the season and it came through with what seemed to us as the whole world around us. Really, it was like that all the way down the road, Massachusetts, New York , Virginia, North Carolina and finally Lancaster, South Carolina where our grandparents lived. As we traveled, every Merry Christmas exchange was a special moment, a conspiracy among strangers who shared that moment as they poured the coffee at the restaurant, filled the tank of gas or gave you change for the chewing gum at the counter.
That view of Christmas, the conspiracy of experiencing the outside world as the source of good, expecting generosity and grace from beyond our personal boundaries-even to and from our own families and friends, that view of the world is still the possibility of Christmas. Even with our iphones, computers and 24/7 cable announcing every tragedy, every act of violence worldwide, every vain act of ego and mania we see and feel in the political spectrum. what if we chose that possibility of vision Christmas provides.
Not just from a 10 year old's perspective of limited experience of course, but with the knowledge we hold still choosing that potential. There is that potential that living as if that good is possible within ourselves and from those we encounter daily. There is looking for and expecting the goodness from the world. The John Kerry fumble that came from President Obama's stand against children being gassed in Syria made way for the nuclear arms being taken on by President Putin and the United Nations to places we've never been before, for example. What if it is more likely if we lean into the direction of that presence in our own world, in our participation in the larger world and in the life we want to call our own, we bring about the peace we say we want. What if Christmas going forward brings us closer to caring for all of the world the way we say we want?
The conspiracy of Christmas is that we bring our best game to the table with our loved ones, and we do it as a nation among other nations sharing Christmas, and we share our humanity and our hope for all the blessings of Christmas. It's powerful and after all, a result of our vision, our love and our courage.