On Holidays, Hope, and Home

At the end of The Return of the King (the novel version), Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, have gone through an extraordinary adventure to save the world and look forward to returning to the comfort of home. As the Hobbits enter the Shire, however, the evil wizard Saruman has conquered it and everything is black and smoke.

They must band together for one, final adventure to save their home.

This month, as I have looked toward Christmas and returning home, I have watched from afar as my hometown of Ventura, CA and the surrounding area, CA burns and parts have become like the Shire once Saruman takes over.

I think we’re all exhausted by a year of tragedies, highly charged politics, and a barrage of natural disasters.

I’ve been personally touched by two this year – First, Hurricane Harvey in Houston, which impacted travel I had to do for work (a small issue), led to my department sending trucks for clean-up, and my church sending volunteers. Second, the Thomas Fire, which has burned a couple hundred thousand acres and over 1,000 structures, along with the homes of friends.

Yet, as ever in the face of tragedy, the true hearts of the community shines.

Over the past few weeks, I have seen the rallying of locals as friends pack lunches for evacuees, gather supplies for the hardworking firefighters, gather donations to support those whose homes have been lost.

Just as Frodo, Sam, and the other Hobbits banded together when their home was threatened, people have come together to build upon what has been lost. What has been will never be again, but in the fire and conflict is a potential for transformation and growth, and a chance for us to remember what matters most: Our love for our friends and family.

Even in ash and smoke, this message shines through.

This message, to lean on our love for one another, is also the heart of Christmas.

It comes in trappings of ribbons and lights, of carols and countless mounds of sweets, of ornaments and reindeer.

Yet, the spirit is there.

The spirit of kindness, of community, of reunions with old friends and celebrations of familiar traditions.

Christmas is about being embraced in a soft warmth, to have the comfort of hope, and to receive strength from each other before we separate again and return to the everyday.

And, for some, returning to the everyday is hard. Yet, we are resilient, in the face of floods and fires. The normalcy of everyday can seem fleeting and far away in the face of disaster.

However, if we continue to uplift each other in a spirit of hope, kindness, and charity, so much good can be shared in the world.

Thank you to each of you and your kindness. Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog, who has supported my books, and who has been willing to give their time and resources to help others.

I am blessed to have many great people in my life, both near and far, and am glad that, with Christmas and the other holidays surrounding this season, we have a reason to take time and strengthen our bonds with one another, whether near or far.

May you all have a Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a warm and wonderful new year.

Readers:

  • What brings you warmth and hope this Christmas season?
  • What are your favorite family holiday traditions?
  • What is your favorite story of kindness during the holidays?

Bonus: As a gift to my followers for this Christmas, click here for a brief (unedited) preview of The Matchgirl and the Magician, the third book in The Pippington Tales.

This story follows Adeline Winkleston, whose “fine arches” and feet are admired in the opening of The True Bride and the Shoemaker, as she goes from a matchgirl in an alleyway to a refined young woman attempting to hide her own magic.

What do you think?

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