What year? Right, this year.
Prior to the hellmouth opening on freedoms and opportunities and even basic fact, I’d been casually sorting through our photos and sussing out some winners for this year. Since last year’s card included a shot of our young daughter mid-frolic during a summer sabbatical in New Zealand (it was winter-ish there), I was leaning heavily on our trip this year to provide the winner.
And it should have! We had some fantastic photos from a summer spent sweating in DC. Our lucky butts went to the White House! Where Michelle Obama lives! Besides a standard public tour a dear friend took us through the West Wing one evening (I cried) and bowling in the basement (I sucked).
I figured we’d riff on a shot of our girl in front of the White House and a history-making woman president and heck yea 2017. Easy peasy.
But that didn’t happen.
Instead of optimism for what's to come, I have a chronic low level belly ache of anxiety. And that’s just if I think about my family. Add in our friends who might worship or look or love or live outside of a narrow definition of acceptable, and that ache is replaced by deep fear and heartbreak.
What could possibly be card worthy? Why bother? There are battles to fight. Screw holiday cards. We should just skip it this year (and next and next and next) and have a sad streak of one.
I wasn't alone in my glumness. Minted's founder/CEO, Mariam Naficy, shares how card designers witnessed folks feeling lost about finding a message this year. (Thanks to Design Mom for sharing).
And thank you, yes, I know we could've donated the money used for cards to causes. That a good progressive would do just that. We did donate and intend to donate both time and money to the best of our abilities. On it, promise.
But, I don't know, y'all, I still wanted to send something out. Like many people, I am looking for connections on common cause. For the nod of acknowledgement between likeminded souls. The USPS version of the safety pin. Maybe it would be meaningless, maybe it would be mocked. But maybe, as a friend said about safety pins, it makes one person feel just a little bit better, a little bit less alone, a little bit safer. Maybe it's one ridiculously small drop in the ocean of voice raising and/or hell raising I hope to see.
Sometimes you have to seek joy and say something, even if it's fleeting and not perfect. In Taylor's piece this week, her father spoke of finding happiness in the midst of pain, outrage and hurt. So much of what she shared has settled into my bones. As a mother, myself, I am thoughtful about how I empower my daughter both towards activism and bravery, work to make her aware of her privilege and of massive injustice and at the same damn time guide her towards joy.
We decided to say something. To send something.
Otherwise, the silence wins. I can't do that. I won't do that. I won't be silent.
With a revised family holiday-ish card mission statement, we got to work. Now our list of three qualifiers had this big hairy beast of a qualifier added to it. It could not, would not, can not, will not ignore the state of things. And it could not, would not, can not, will not take a neutral stance on where our family will stand.
If I were a religious woman, you can bet I would've prayed on this.
My first idea was a black card that just read: Happy New Year?
Because, honestly, I am not sold on 2017 not being a holy hot mess.
I reeled it in though. Fatalism will get me no where. It won’t protect a single right. Help a single friend. Or change a single thing. It might have gotten me a laugh (which I sure like) but I wanted to send a flare up, even a small one, that fatalism will not be the dominant tone of 2017. Nope.
We dug through the rest of the trip photos. And there it was. On its own an ok photo, but with my husband's editing skills and the right words, it takes on reality without bleakness. (If you're curious about the location, it's a pinball museum in Asheville, NC. Our daughter got way into pinball this summer even though she's just terrible at it.)