The author and his own father

A Secular Christmas Wish for A New Human

illustrated drop cap for the letter HHi there!

You are new here. And I’m very pleased to meet you. You got here just in time—maybe a little late, but here nonetheless. I’m hoping that you are well, that you landed in a safe spot that is equal parts cozy and loving. That is built to meet you, however you are, whenever you are.

I hope that you’ll know your family. It’s not a lot of family, but a pretty good-sized dose. I hope that you’ll love them like I do, and also better than I do. That you find in them what they find in you and that whatever parts get troublesome or scary only bother you for a minute or two. They really are mostly great. 

That you’ll have friends. They’ll be different things at different times. Some might be with you for just a short time—and they still might make a deep impression. Some might be with you for a large part of your life. I hope you find a lot of those. That’s a selfish thought. You might not be the kind of person who gravitates toward other people; that might just be me—but it’s offered, I promise, in good spirit. I’ve been lucky enough to have more than a few of these. They may be your best mirrors.

That you’ll have community. Something that calls you its own. A place that is spiritual in some kind of way, or at least fulfilling to the point that you lose a part of yourself. Maybe you’ll wander into something. Maybe you’ll drive toward it. Either way, I hope that you are unafraid, and that if you are afraid it grows into something beyond fear; something that opens rather than closes your heart.

That you’ll have purpose. That your bliss is unpolluted and yours. That your world grows into something just a little too big, but spins on just the right kind of axis. 

That you have passion. And that you see the difference between passion and purpose, and that you find where the two can be complimentary, and where they need to contradict each other. Maybe your passion will be just a little out of control. I hope that, if this is the case, your extra passion will be something that you can store away for warmth when you need it later.

That you’ll find love in many places. That the world will fill you.

That you’ll have home, and that your home is a thing that can travel with you. Something that finds you wherever you are, and sneaks in when you most need it to remind you of who you are. Maybe it will be an outline of a place that doesn’t exist in one geographic location. Or maybe it will be a fixed and mutable idea that helps you get to know yourself a little better and remains useful even as you drift away from it.

That you’ll have heroes. That you meet your heroes, and that they turn out to be just as wonderful as you think they are—and that in the moment you realize this, that you just love them more than you did before. But that your heroes aren’t chiseled on the side of some mountain somewhere. Or frozen in time on top of a concrete pier, all built to look down on the rest of the world.

That you are present. That you have patience for the world around you. But that you know when you don’t have to stomach bullshit. And that, indeed, you do not stomach bullshit.

That your time here comes as you and your peers and me and my peers and everyone else create new space for all of our comrades who have never had that space. That the larger belief systems that we all use to try and make sense of what is otherwise — but maybe still? — mostly chaos really do turn into something that works (like really works) for everyone. That your compadres, compatriots, and comrades are better focused on all of this then we are right now. 

That this is not the last time I write to you, and that we have a dialog that grows even as it twists and turns. 

I love you. I’m very excited that you’re here. 

Mike Kanin is the co-editor of Preachy. By day, he is the publisher of the Texas Observer.