December is here, and I can hardly believe it. Wasn’t it only yesterday that September came and slapped us all in the face with its sudden onslaught of students to teach and concerts to play? Fall has schlepped by and now many of us find ourselves lighting Advent candles, searching for evidence of joy, peace, love, and hope.
Hope. That’s a hard one for me. Never in my life have I followed political and world news as closely as I have these past six months. I’ve found myself captive to the stories of accusations that are flying around Washington, D.C., and indeed the world… my heart is absolutely frayed by the realities at many borders, the sub-human conditions that thousands of innocent people are struggling in. Where is hope? I don’t see it…
Since the December holidays are just weeks away, Halloween is a distant memory for most of the world, but in my house, it’s ALWAYS Halloween. My imaginative little child loves literally nothing more than to “play make pretend.” The first words I hear from her every morning are not “Good morning, Mommy!” or “Mama, I’m HUNGRY,” but instead “Can I be your kitty?” or “Mama, will you play evil with me?”
“Playing Evil,” in the Bickers household, is actually playing Cinderella, but instead of portraying the protagonists, I am instead the Wicked Stepmother and Isabel is Lucifer, the cat. And the game consists of us seeing chores that Cinderella isn’t doing well enough, and then punishing her by telling her she has to scrub the toilets with her hair or clean the cat box with her bare hands. It’s compelling stuff, and by the way NOT my idea.
Our make pretend games are built of many different characters, and around holidays we make use of the characters of the season: the Easter bunny at Easter… a variety of reindeer and elves at Christmas… and around Halloween, we are witches and vampires, ghosties and black cats.
Several Halloweens ago, Izzy asked me if witches were real – and vampires, frankensteins, unicorns, fairies, etc… I told her they were not, that they are stories meant to scare into us some moral lesson or inspire us into giggles. And then we went on our merry way, chiding Cinderella for not cleaning the curtains well enough.
Of course, I know the truth: all of those monsters are definitely real.
We’ve all seen them.
There are warlocks who would kidnap hundreds of Nigerian school girls, to use them as political pawns and sex slaves.
There are Frankensteins who burst into shopping malls and schools and open fire, claiming lives in an instant.
There are pumpkin-headed ghouls who would lead entire countries guided by only their own self-interests.
There are witches who act as brokers in human-trafficking circles.
There are vampires who poison the earth while calling it “agricultural progress.”
Oh, yes. The Bad Guys are real. And someday, I’ll have to tell my daughter that truth.
But. On that day, thank the good and living God that I can also say that fairies and unicorns are real, too.
After all, there are fairy godmothers that sit down every day to read with children who need a leg up in school.
And there are rainbow unicorns that farm their land cleanly, delivering healthy food to people without overtaxing the ground it grows in.
And there are friendly dragons who walk across borders into violent places to bring comfort and love to families that are simply searching for a chance to live in peace.
And there are Princess Charmings that stand up against a history of discrimination against women, against colorful people, against the have-nots, and shout at the top of their lungs “ENOUGH, already!”
And there are Prince Charmings that are man enough to fight beside them.
There are many reasons to feel hopeless or helpless in these days. But the reality is this:
For every vampire that bites and every black cat that hisses, there’s at least a thousand WonderWomen and Supermen living lives of love and goodness, to beat back that darkness.
And when I remember that, how dare I refuse hope?