I grew up Jewish in a town that was predominantly Christian. Being a little Jewish boy who didn’t know what tinsel was or had never heard the story of Bethlehem (“What do you mean you don’t know about the 3 wise men???”) was challenging. Even though I had a stable family and I knew they loved me, I felt alone, different and wanted to be someone other than who I was.
That experience opened my heart and my eyes to a lifetime journey of seeing that there are huge numbers of people – many of who do not look the perfectly white teethed, super thin, very well dressed white people in the holiday commercials – who feel alone and different. Looking ahead to 2016, almost 50% of my clients are people of color. I sincerely believe to whatever extent I as a white man can have deep empathy for people who are so profoundly left out of the dominant conversation started with the longing and sadness of that little Jewish boy.
For those who have a large, loving family and are celebrating with abandon today, I celebrate with you. Your joy brings me great joy. I wish you and yours health, happiness and prosperity.
And, there are a gazillion social media statuses today along these lines.
Today, in my heart of hearts, are all the people who don’t fit. Who:
- Follow a path that doesn’t include Christmas as a major holiday.
- Can’t go home because they are LGBT and their family have disowned them.
- Were ostracized from a spiritual community because they spoke up about some injustice or some unhealthy dynamic.
- Can’t sit at a table they once felt deeply at home at due to separation or divorce.
- Are feeling incredibly stressed by not having the money they need to give their loved ones the lavish gifts that the marketing world tells us we should give.
- Who have suffered from illness of some kind and don’t have the capacity to celebrate or are in the hospital.
- And a thousand other reasons that don’t often get talked about.
To each and every person who doesn’t feel like the characters in the Christmas cartoons tells us we should feel …
I see you.
I feel you.
I love you.
And, to that little Jewish boy growing up in Westchester County in the 70’s who is feeling SO much sadness and longing on this day, I want to say: “I feel you little boy. I’m sorry this is so hard. And, please know there’s a reason for this suffering. As a result of what you are feeling right now, you will go on in your life to help many people who don’t look like you and come from very different circumstances than the families who live in this town. I know it’s not easy, and these feelings will open a doorway to a lifetime of caring for others and deep service.”