Our Christmas Table

This Christmas, for the first time, Juliette and I hosted her family at our house for the holiday. Her parents came, as well as her younger brother and sister and new brother-in-law. Things were a bit hectic leading up to it, as we were planning our first ever Christmas dinner, but in the end it all came off without a hitch and a good time (and good meal) was had by all.

Looking around the table as we sat for Christmas dinner, I was struck by just how many kinds of people were represented in that small group. There were eight of us together that night, and in that eight were included a toddler and a 78-year-old, a college student, and a pair of newlyweds. There were Caucasians, Japanese, and a black man. There were Canadians, a Brazilian, and Americans from both coasts. There were at least two different Christian denominations represented, plus a Jewish man, an atheist, and at least one agnostic. Conservatives, moderates, liberals, and the politically indifferent were all there.

And the most amazing thing to me is that despite all of our differences, we all get along. We have our disagreements, true--we even had a little political discussion during the meal. But even when we argue, we listen to what each other have to say, actually weigh the merits of the other's points, and treat one another with respect.

In my more optimistic moments, I believe that we as a species are capable of being more and better than the shrill, angry voices that seem to be dominating political and social discourse right now. It's not always easy to keep a level tone and a reasonable perspective, but seeing a group like the one we had for the holiday makes me know it can be done. If I could have just one wish for the new year, it would be that more people could see it--and live it--as well.