Here it is Christmas Eve, and I know that I should be writing a cheery post for the holiday season, but I’ve been sad lately. I’m sad about several things: family who don’t want to spend the holidays together, people with strident views who let it interfere with their relationships, long lost friends who I once thought would be my friends forever, a community I so desperately want but have trouble finding.
But these things have been part of my life for a long time, and for the most part, I have found some peace within the walls of my own house. If it weren’t for the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I probably wouldn’t be so sad or remembering the sorrow in my life. The extremely polarized views in the media and the vitriol coming out of that disturbs me greatly.
I am someone who has always avoided – for better or worse – conflict. I have had a hard time finding my voice or my opinion because I can usually see and feel both sides of an issue, and pinning down exactly what I think is hard. I know what I feel, and I do have many opinions, but the biggest issues have so many shades of gray that I usually think I need to be a scholar in the subject before I take a stand. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to be a scholar on all the big issues.
All this a good writer does not make.
And I used to think this made me weak because someone once told me it was a “cop out” to not take a stand. After thinking about this for years, I have finally come to the conclusion that it’s simply how I operate, and it’s actually an asset. How many people have the capacity for thinking outside the box? Or for trying to empathize with the other side? Geez, I would rather be a person who had solid convictions. I think that would be much easier. I would have my community, and I wouldn’t care about the people outside that community.
I’ve been writing a weekly column for my local newspaper for three and a half years now, and fortunately I’ve picked a topic — motherhood and daily life — that doesn’t require me to have definite opinions on the Big topics. I do have solid opinions on parenthood and homeschooling.
But in light of the recent tragic events, I have felt I need to talk about the tragedy because I am writing about motherhood and these events have affected so many parents. If I were only writing on this personal blog, I wouldn’t feel I needed to write about it so much, but I’m writing for a newspaper, and that feels so different.
But I still don’t take big stands because I don’t have the answers. I have more questions than answers at this point. I’ve written two columns, “What Will The New Year Bring?” which asks a lot of questions yet reveals some of my opinions, and then “Homeschooling for Safety Reasons,” which is my response to those who are jumping into homeschooling because of this tragic event. You’ll find these columns in the newspaper and here on my blog over the next couple of weeks.
I am grateful for having this experience as a columnist because it’s making me think more about where I want to take a stand and where I want to get more information. It’s given me a thicker skin, and yet it’s made me weary too. Many weeks I think what’s the use of writing about any of this? So few really care. Or they think I’m crazy. What am I writing for?
But it’s taught me that I’m writing for myself, and that’s where I get my joy. I have always wanted to write, and I am writing.
Excuse me for babbling on Christmas Eve. I promise I’m going to shake this gloomy feeling. I’m using the nifty WordPress tool to schedule my blog posts to publish automatically this week, and I’ve already got them in the queue. I can close my laptop and concentrate on the things I’m thankful for and what makes me happy this Christmas:
- A husband who I can disagree with yet know he’ll always love me deeply. The longer we’re married the more I realize that I married him for the great conversations we have.
- Two little boys who give me more joy than I can possibly describe here.
- A warm house.
- Two dogs, a cat, and some fish that have hung on to life longer than I ever imagined little fish could.
- New friends.
- Friends for my boys.
- The freedom to write whatever I want.
- My camera.
- My health.
- The option to homeschool and spend this awesome, quality time with my children. To not have to try to figure out how to balance work and family life.
- Online friends, which I consider a bonus.
Do you get sad over the holidays? And what makes you happy?