May you have some merry in your Christmas

Did I tell you the story about the man who said, “Have a good day?” I was visiting him one last time before he went home to be cared for by hospice. He died within a day or two.

We both knew that was happening. So when he said, “Have a good day,” I struggled to respond. “You, too” felt odd. Anything else felt awkward.

I finally laughed. “I think the thing to say is, ‘Have some good in your day,'” I said. Those of us in the room smiled.

I’ve thought about that a lot (and him (and his family)) this month. We offer greetings that feel hard to receive. How can I have a happy thanksgiving with all these empty seats. How can I have a merry Christmas with the chaos and loss. The automatic greeting for some feels like an emotional assault, one last obligation we are unable to meet.

The underlying Christmas story is about God putting on a body and joining a cultural mess and working slowly and unexpectedly at every turn to bring the possibility of hope and peace and love and joy.

And so, I’m starting to look for ways to have good in a day, to have nice in a day, to have happy somewhere in thanksgiving, to have some merry in Christmas.

The tree photo, for example. It’s an awkward photo, but the tree is in one of the toughest units at our hospital, in a space where it’s accessible mostly by staff, set up by a manager. When I talked with a coworker in that unit, she said the manager came in on a weekend to do all the decorating. She wanted these nurses and techs to find some merry in their Christmas.

May you find some, too.