I just sent in a submission to the Dreamspinner Advent anthology, and it got me thinking about Christmas last year.
It was almost Christmas, and my dad went to a live nativity show. When he came back, he was so excited he got together as many of the family as he could. "You have to come," he said. "It's amazing. I cried through it." This was my dad saying that.
In the end, my mom, my sister, and I went along. We drove over in the cold and the dark. And he was right. It was wonderful. The live nativity outside the church had a number of stations or pit stops to stand and listen to things about the Christmas story. There were treats. There was cocoa at the end. My hands were freezing, but I felt so warm inside. This was Christmas, not the slightly jaded and bored way I'd been feeling, but the warmth of meaning and love and caring and beauty even in dark circumstances.
As we drank the cocoa and listened to some Christmas music in the auditorium, I felt so happy, warm and included in a way I hadn't for a long time. And then I looked through one of their pamphlets.
They talked about the things their church believed--and didn't. Gay marriage was a primary "not."
And my warm feeling left, with only sorrow and a feeling of being an imposter. I finished my cocoa, but I wanted to weep. All I could think was, "They wouldn't want me here if they knew."
Maybe that's not true. Maybe they would. But it took away some of my happiness and made me feel like an outsider again.
I just have to remind myself that Christmas is about Jesus, the boy born in the manger, who would never say I was unwanted or unwelcome or shouldn't be who I really am.