“You may say I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one,
I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.” – Imagine, John Lennon.
Before anything else, I’m a dreamer. Many of you can hardly tell right now it seems, but it’s Christmastime and for some, this used to be the most wonderful time of the year. Now, though, it’s just another period to push through, to overcome and to breathe a sigh of relief at the end of it all. That’s because some of you have lost loved ones, some of you can’t seem to find your bearings, and some of you have simply lost hope that things will get better, at least not until the New Year rolls in.
No, this isn’t an unrealistic, over-the-top fluff piece about you finding your strength and joy in life again. If anything, this is some unsolicited storytelling, and if you’ll have it, advice… I think. Even so, you shouldn’t take advice from a stranger (most times), so here, let’s be friends for a minute, at least until you’re done reading this. I’m Michael Nattoo. I grew up in the small community of John’s Hall, St. James, and though I didn’t have much, the fact that I’m now an unapologetic dreamer well into adulthood means that a lot of things about my upbringing were right, more than they were wrong.
For instance, we didn’t have a Christmas tree most times, and friend, you know we didn’t have snow, at least the American version of it. What we had though were the pink blossoms that fell from the apple trees in our yard, and that was enough. My cousins – Trevesa, BanJam, Sanchez, and I used to play for hours on end in those blossoms, we’d sing carols, and we did any little thing that our hearts led us to do, because there was just something about this time of year. Or was there? The adult me has a different version of why those moments still stand out to me as some of the best moments I’ve ever had, but I’ll get to that.
I’ve just shared one of my dearest memories with you, so that means we aren’t so much strangers anymore, right? Good. That means you could humour me a little now – whatever advice I give, as your friend in this moment, you wouldn’t be opposed to taking it, right? Pinky promise? Good. So about you – I know things have been challenging. You’ve seen it too, right? I remember a few years back, by now, whenever I’d take a bus to head back home to the country, the road sides would’ve been swept clean, certain houses would be alight with those beautiful ‘pepper lights’ we’ve come to associate with Christmas, and somewhere, whether in the bus or in the distance, you could hear Christmas carols playing. We haven’t seen much of that these days, huh? Instead, what I’ve observed are people who, I imagine would have wanted to show their ‘Christmas Spirit’ but, are not in any real position to do so.
MY GIFT TO YOU
There are only but a few decorated houses around now, not many carols are playing, and people just wanting to survive the ‘Festive Season’. Has that been your reality too, friend? If it is, that sucks, and though you’re only reading this right now, here’s a nice, warm hug. I’m right here in that with you. I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination, and while I would rather just give you all the money in the world, the only valuable thing I can realistically give you right now is my unfiltered humanity. I’m not sure how much that is worth right now, but it’s the thing that has me believing that regardless of how bad things are, they can get better… and they will. That’s got to count for something, right? Even beyond Christmas, that’s what I can assure you I’ll have in abundance.
I won’t get mad at you for stepping on my shoe if you pass me in the street, I won’t lose my patience at you for spending waaaay to long in the ATM, and I won’t yell at you if you so happen to offend me. That’s less about turning the other cheek, and more about understanding that we’re all going through some stuff, and sometimes, we are not sure how to deal with that.
Remember how I told you the adult me has a different perspective on why it is that I remember those days of my childhood so fondly now, even though we didn’t have much? That’s because, as cliché as it sounds, I had people who loved me, even if they were much too young to understand what that means. And that kinda sums up the unsolicited advice, my friend. If you can’t afford all the bells and whistles of the Christmas period, that’s fine. You really don’t need it. Put yourself around people who make your heart happy, and everything else will follow.
I won’t do much this Christmas, but if I see you, considering now that we’re friends, I’ll have a hug on standby. Things are tough, I know, but if that’s something I can do help make your day even a little better, you can better your nonexistent dollars that I’ll do it. I know I’m a dreamer, and I know it’s weird to be all caught up in all this touchy feely stuff, but do understand: that touchy feely stuff is the spice of life. Merry Christmas, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I really really like you, and Dear Dreamer, I hope you’ll be OK.