Thanks, Giving, Peace and Beer

He was a little guy. Three years old maybe. His father held his little sister while the three peered into the cooler at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Mills River, NC. While he was small, his smile was large and he patiently stood waiting for his father to make a selection. As I approached, I couldn’t help but ask him, “What should I choose?” With that smile beaming from ear to ear he looked at his father for approval, then to me, then to the cooler. His little finger pointed just above his eye level at a bottle bearing a Christmas tree – the 2019 Christmas Jam. “That one?” I inquired. His head nodded approvingly. As I opened the door to grab the bottle I could sense his pride and excitement. Perhaps it was just simply that he knew Christmas was approaching or, maybe, that he was seen and his recommendation accepted.

As we approach this season of Thanksgiving and then followed by a season of giving, it’s these small moments that so simply hone in to what really matters. It is very easy to be consumed by the troubles and ridicule of the world that is designed to win favor, create factions, foster a sense of identity and, more often than not, fan the flames of animosity. We so easily group people by what they believe, how they identify or even what sports team they affiliate with. Democrats, Republicans, Bears fans, Packers fans, LGBTQ, straight, the list goes on and on. It is within this that what was once healthy competition and refinement has turned, often, into what I can only call hate. We are quick to categorize and place one another in buckets. Perhaps we’d be wise to dump all these buckets out on the floor and simply marvel at the beauty we each collectively bring and that together we create. I can’t help but hope that if we could all see each other – all of us – with a lens of love, respect and mutual curiosity that maybe, just maybe, more would feel the sweet embrace of being seen, known, loved. Then perhaps this world would feel a little more bright.

In a little over a month we’ll come to my favorite day of the year, Christmas Eve. My world will slow down a bit and my children will create an air of excitement as they anticipate what Christmas morning will bring. At around 4pm that day we’ll venture to our church where a Christmas Eve service for children will be held. Fortunately, for wiggly little ones, it will be short. However, just as will be done at the 11pm service, candles will be handed out as we enter the sanctuary. As we end our time together in peaceful chorus we will pass a flame between one another. The house lights will fade and in unison will shall sing. There will be a moment after the last note echos into the distance where we will be in silence with only the glow of candles to light our faces. The incredible peace in that moment, the fact that each inhale and exhale will be done with so little effort, I look forward to it each year. For just those few seconds the burdens of my world fall off my shoulders and I see those around me so clearly and simply. What matters comes perfectly into focus – my family, friends, people. While I know these things in my heart, it is easy to be distracted and it is a wonderful thing to be regularly reminded why we walk this earth. We are here to love.

I hope you will seek moments out like this. Perhaps to challenge your own personal perspectives or simply to see people as they are. It is moments like what I’ve described above that I wish for us all. The thing I love about craft beer is the people I get to meet and, as the aforementioned Christmas Jam did, it can create moments where you’d least expect it.

My friends, may you be blessed with peace and love this season. Cheers.