By: Jeremiah Pennebaker ~Guest Writer~
Even though stores have had holiday decorations up since Halloween and I’ve been watching Christmas movies non-stop since the beginning of October, now that Thanksgiving is over, it is officially Christmas time. Everyone who loves this time of year can openly wear tacky sweaters, play obnoxious Christmas music and wrap lights around every piece of furniture they own.
As a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic and a man of (sometimes wavering) faith, Christmas time is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas time is beautiful because it represents an abundance of possibilities. There is an innocent hope that exists at Christmas time. It makes us believe in miracles. It is the child whose eyes light up with the first snowfall of the year and the hope for a white Christmas. It is the parent who, even though they’ve been struggling paycheck to paycheck all year, can scrape something together to make sure that their child has what they want under the tree Christmas morning. It is that lonely person who, after a whole year of heartbreak and disappointment, hopes that they’ll run into that special someone under the mistletoe on Christmas Eve.
I love Christmas not because of the anticipation of any gifts, but because of the overwhelming sense of hope and love. In the Christian tradition, at least the way that I’ve understood it, Christmas is a miracle. It is the story of an impoverished pregnant virgin giving birth to one of the most important men of history in a barn (to put it simply). Christmas is a time in which we can envision the potential for beauty and have hope for a better world.
I believe this to be true even from a secular point of view. The belief in a Christmas miracle is a part of our society. There is an inherent “somehow” in the Christmas/holiday spirit. Somehow, with the help of Rudolph, Santa Claus will be able to deliver presents to kids around the world before they wake up Christmas morning. Somehow, the Grinch’s heart will grow three sizes, and he’ll save the presents from falling off the cliff. Somehow, Mr. Scrooge will let Bob Cratchit go home for Christmas, and somehow Tiny Tim will survive the winter. Somehow, I’ll make it through finals and make it home for Christmas.
This “somehow” is what I’m clinging to this year. A year in which I’ve watched Black men and women gunned down left and right by the people who are sworn to protect them. A year in which I watched a man receive a three-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman next to a dumpster. A year in which I’ve had my White counterparts here at Xavier and across the country tell me several times over that my life doesn’t matter to them. That “somehow” is what will keep me going into 2017.
That “somehow” is what my father taught me about when he lost his mother and my grandmother on his 40th birthday. That “somehow” is what my mother showed me when she scraped together my tuition payment freshman year so I wouldn’t have to pack up and go home. That “somehow” is what I see every day in one of my best friends who was devastated by the death of her mom but continues to attack the world and her job with an unwavering confidence and commitment to justice.
My “somehow” is informed by my “someday.” I’ll somehow continue to combat White supremacy, patriarchy, xenophobia and all other forms of hate because I believe that someday America will be what it claims to be. Someday is when we’ll see our work come to fruition. Someday is that hope fulfilled. Stevie Wonder claimed that Someday at Christmas there’ll be no tears, all men are equal and no men have fears. Judy Garland says someday soon, we all will be together, if the fates allow, but until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow. Someday is what we have to look forward to as we’re working through “somehow.”