I once wrote a piece for a Theatre for Young Audiences called “Misfit Christmas”. The story was loosely based on the Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. In that piece, a young boy discovers his disability (he’s in a wheelchair) doesn’t actually define him and, in turn, helps him to see that everyone has their place and their purpose. I’ve been thinking about that script and the holidays lately.
They say, the holidays are about family. Though heartfelt, that sentiment falls short for a lot of people. I’m talking about the people with no family or with highly dysfunctional families. For those, the holidays serve as little more than a reminder of how painful life’s tragedy can be. So when you sing the song of “Happy holidays”, you never know if that tune is stinging the listener or not.
They also say, the holidays are when the suicide rate climbs. Are these two ideas inter-connected? I have no qualifying facts to support that. What I do have is an understanding of the Misfit Christmas. The heart and soul of the Misfit Christmas is that, at our core, we are all made of the same stuff. Labels are a man-made construct that do nothing but divide the global family called man.
All families are dysfunctional — on some level. Those families (or family members) that claim otherwise are mad… mad, I say! But when the family is so dysfunctional they can’t function together even slightly, the holidays become a serious source of pain. For those that suffer from such a severe lack of functionality — I would ask you this:
What is family?
According to M-W.com, family is:
1: A group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head : household
2: a : A group of persons of common ancestry : clan
b : A people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock : race
3: a : A group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation : fellowship
b : the staff of a high official (as the President)
If we go with these definitions, “family” does not have to include blood relatives (or any relative, for that matter). A family need only be a collection of people with similar convictions.
I have a number of families:
- My immediate family (my father, my mother, my… ehem… siblings)
- My marriage family (my wife, my step children, my cats)
- My writing families (of various degrees of familiarity)
- My cycling families
Each of those families serves a specific purpose — fills a need. And if I glance at that list, I realize that I am not and will never be alone. For those of you out there with either no living family or no immediate or marriage family to turn to, know well that you have other circles with which to share joy, hope, peace, and love.
This applies to the misfits out there (of which I am one). And I am here to say the holidays simply wouldn’t be the same without us. Misfits not only make the world more colorful, they make it more lovable, wonderful, magical, and joyous — you know, everything that makes us think of Christmas!
Now — let’s take this to a level I don’t use go to. Jesus. Now I’m not going to go down the path religious. That’s not my shtick. But let’s look at Jesus Christ from a social perspective. The man hung with the misfits: The lepers, the prostitutes, the fallen, forsaken, and poor. Jesus loved them all. Christ was not only a friend of the misfits, he was their champion. So if you fashion yourself in the clothing of Christianity, how can you turn your back on the misfits of the world?
The holidays are a time when we should all be reaching out to those in need (not just financial need — but familial need) and wrapping our loving arms of acceptance around them to show them they do, in fact, have a family. If you know a misfit (or two), invite them into your home and share a bit of the holiday love with them.
Everything in life is so much sweeter when shared. So this holiday season, decorate your soul by adding a few misfits and freaks to your world.