If you can believe it, I absorbed a marathon of cheesy Hallmark movies while Mariah Carey vocalized about “not wanting to cry” and “going the distance”. I lounged on my mother’s sofa and looked Picture Perfect Christmas and The Mistletoe Secret. I spent the whole day on the sofa in my pajamas. Later, I ate at least two medium sized plates of my mother’s famous Christmas ham, dirty rice, potato salad, and rice dressing. Because I owed no person anything, I sprawled back across the couch and watched “Christmas at the Plaza” and A Christmas Love Story.”
I arrived at mom’s on Christmas Eve. We promptly visited my grandmother’s house and were treated to a taco bar, a stupendous blend of lively music, and impromptu line dancing with a card game in the kitchen. What I remember most is how expeditiously all the decorations, plates, chairs, tables, and holiday millieu were cleared away. In what amounted to just under 20 minutes, my grandmother’s outside patio looked like it was about to be prepared for another party. Not a single person complained about having to participate in clean-up.
In 2019, I was thankful to have visited four different U.S. states. I’ve gone to Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, and Indiana this year. I have also seen the Carter and Clinton Presidential libraries. I have allowed myself to embrace musical theater in a way that I never believed possible. I have seen Wicked The Musical and Mary Poppins. Seeing these productions has informed my skillful attention to detail.
I realized this year that making the choice to stop drinking alcohol was something I needed to do so that I keep my brain ready for the next surprising chapter of my life. So I quit drinking on October 12th during a play performance of Joshua Hammon’s “Skin Tight”
I was nervous about seeing the play. The first bit of nervous energy had to do with the fact that the audience was overwhelmingly not African-American. I would have been the lone black man present were it not for another older man I noticed. He had arrived after my friend and I.
I ignorantly believed that having a beer would soothe my trepidation about the play. Alcohol seems to have only made me hate myself more for believing that the drink would calm my anxiety about assuage my feelings. I was further convicted when my feelings were reflected in Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of an Indian. The Native Americans depicted in the narrative told by Arnold Spirit described several instances of friends, parents, and families using alcohol to cope with the poverty, loss, and detachment that comes as a consequences of living reservation life.
Spirit’s grandmother uses a powerful quote that seems to have hardened my tenacious drive to continue sober living. She said: Drinking would shut down my seeing and my hearing and my feeling. Why would I want to be in the world if I couldn’t touch the world with all of my senses intact?
Today is December 26th. The 27th has already started in New York City. And I’ll have survived 76 days without using alcohol to cover my nervous , awkward, scared feelings. It’s been scary confessing that I used alcohol to ruin from guilt and fear.
Today, I also got my own disability placard. I used to feel like I needed to cover certain differences about being disabled just because people have shamed me about needing extra help with specific things.
It was nice to approach Christmas without needing to perform holiday cheer if I didn’t feel it. It was good to sing only when I feel happy enough to do so. It was great to admit that I had every right to choose to be around only the family members that made me know that I deserved to be there.
This year was more about finding my own facts. They say loving God is about loving mercy. Shouldn’t I be afforded the mercy to find acceptance with people who don’t force me to be something I’m not. This Christmas I was at peace because I allowed the people in, that took off my training wheels.
I probably have laughed more this year… than I ever have in the past. I’ve forgiven myself more this year than I’ve shamed myself. I’ve been straightforward about my own senses without rushing to betray myself in the process.
People say that I’m snooty just because I’m bookish and quiet. I think that’s all smoke and mirrors to save these lost people from consciously choosing to know the real me.
When you anoint something, you smear oil upon it. Jesus is supposed to be the anointed one. His blood was SMEARED upon a sinful human generation. And surely, people smear their beliefs, faults, and attitudes upon each other. I’ve learned this year that we have no control over the people who “smear” us. WE don’t control what influences become the product of the campaign. The campaign may never win over our enemies.
But I’ve learned this year… that the campaign is me. The campaign is about your process not those who vote.
The campaign is using every opportunity to forgive because we desire the smear of God’s forgiveness, his version of perfectness. We often forget that it’s not our job to make anyone change. We are to simply influence them.
I don’t know all about my future. But I am growing into what it’s like to trust God’s spiritual fruit: the love, peace, long-suffering, goodness, and faith.