Merry Christmas to people I’ve never met

The Slacktivixen loves her new scarf. I was pretty sure she would, since it’s beautiful and just the sort of thing she usually loves. But I’m always a little nervous about gift-giving, and so I couldn’t know for sure that she’d like it until this morning when we opened our Christmas presents and … yes! … success.

I was particularly nervous about the scarf because I picked it out all by myself. I don’t tend to do that. I get the girls to help me pick things out for their mom, and I get their mom to help me pick things out for the girls — thus avoiding the sorts of miscalculations of style or size or general what-on-earth-were-you-thinking? that I’ve occasionally made in the past.

Merry Christmas, Ra Noe. And thank you for the scarf.

But then it’s not really true that I picked this scarf out all by myself. I had plenty of help, but it all came from people I’ve never met. These are people I trust, people I rely on, and people I’m quite fond of. And yet I’ve never met them.

This is an odd feature of my life these days. A great many people I’ve never met have become very important to me.

The woman in the picture here is Ra Noe. Never met her. She lives in Austin, Texas, and is originally from Burma — two places I’ve never been. She made the scarf that made my wife happy this Christmas morning.

I got to know her and her neighbors thanks to J.R. Goudeau, a blogger from Austin. I’ve never met her, either, but I trust her and have come, through her blog, to share a tiny degree of her love for her refugee neighbors from Burma.

I couldn’t tell you how I first came across her blog. It was probably through a link from Rachel Held Evans or Sarah Bessey or some other blogger I’ve never met either.

There’s a whole network of such people — a community, really, even though that’s a strange word to use for people I’ve never met. It’s a broad community of writers, readers, commenters, lurkers, linkers and likers, most of whom I will never meet except as pixels on a screen. And yet this community is important to me. I rely on them, trust them, admire them. I miss them when I haven’t heard from them in a while.

And since, if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them — probably some part of that community — then I should probably switch to the second person here. You folks mean a lot to me. You plural, you singular. So thank you.

Thank you, Ra Noe, for making the beautiful scarf I gave my wife this morning. Thank you, J.R., for introducing me to her. Thank you blogosphere for introducing me to dozens of people like J.R. Thank you community of people I’ve never met for being such a wonderful virtual neighborhood.

Merry Christmas to all of you. Plural and singular. Merry Christmas to you.

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  • We need to get John Stewart to throw another Rally to Restore Sanity, then we could have an excuse to meet more of each other again.  We could never get everyone in the same place at the same time (primary concerns being money and availability  but perhaps some of them.

    Failing that someone could get filthy rich and after giving to worthy causes and such still have enough left over to pay for the transportation and time away from work for all of us to be in one place at one time.  But to do that they’d need to be really and truly filthy rich.

  • Weaver_dav_t

    Merry Christmas from North Yorkshire. You might never have been here, but its a good place and people here have *heard of you* through this amazing contraption called the internet. Peace to you and yours.

  • alsafi

    Merry Christmas to you and yours–peace on earth, goodwill to all!

  • Tricksterson

    Happy Solstice Celebration of your choice to all

  • And to all of you I give this a picture of an improvised star after the original lights died.

    Full story spread over two posts (here then here) but it’s not that interesting.

  • flat

    Your welcome Fred.

    merry christmas from the Netherlands

  • Isabel C.

    Merry Christmas to Fred and everyone who celebrates! And I hope Winter Storm Draco (…seriously, I don’t even…) treats everyone in the US gently.

  • Twig

    Merry christmas to you and all good things for the new year

  • Psarchet28

    Just shared this on Twitter with the caption “the Slactivist says it better than I could.” Thanks very much and season’s greetings.

  • SisterCoyote

    Merry Christmas to you, Fred, and to all of you people who I’ve never met – and to people who I have, through whatever strange circumstances twitches internet folks together.

  • FireSpirit

    Unrelated, but to add to the Bonfire, perhaps, if you like it.  

  • Amaryllis

     Merry Christmas to Fred and family, and to all who are celebrating. Wishing good things in the new year to all this community.

  • Mrs Grimble

    Merry Christmas from Scotland,  Fred.  May you and all your loved ones have a wonderful, safe and peaceful celebration.

  • EllieMurasaki

    A joyous December holiday to everyone who has a holiday in December.

    I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to be delighted in the awesomeness of the presents I got from people on the Internet (October Daye books! yummy fair-trade chocolate! best Yuletide fics EVER) or disappointed that the presents from the people who have known me all my life don’t measure up.

  • Katie

    Merry Christmas!

  • Leila

    Merry Christmas, Fred and the rest of the Clark family!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and all of us Slacktivites too!

  • Merry Christmas, Fred

  • Jessica_R

    Merry Christmas Mr. Clark, and Merry Christmas to the Slacktivites who celebrate, and a happy, hopeful 2013 to all. Now I’m off to use some the Lush treats Santa was kind enough to leave me and read my favorite version of the Incarnation, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. 

  • guest

    Dude, I’m in North Yorkshire too!  We could have a Slacktivist party….  And Merry Christmas (we celebrate Sir Isaac’s birthday today here, but Merry Christmas to the rest of you, since it’s also Christmas) to Fred and all of you from whom I’ve learned so much.

  • Redcrow

    Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, Happy Whatever You Prefer Instead and best wishes to those who (like me) doesnt.

  • Tehanu

    Merry Christmas or holiday of your choice to all. I love coming here and being exposed to so many great people and ideas I probably wouldn’t know about at all otherwise.  Fred, you make the world a better place.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Merry Christmas to you, Fred! And may 2013 be a better year for all of us than 2012.

  • Community is the result of communication, right?  In that case internet communities are not any less communities than the ones defined by geography or any of the other ways we define them.  

    Thank you, Fred, for doing the thing you do the way you do it – and for introducing me (however unintentionally) to several other people who have (intentionally or otherwise) made the interesting parts of 2012 a lot easier to deal with.

    A Merry Christmas to everyone who wants one, and an exceptionally nice Tuesday (or Wednesday, at this point) to everyone who would prefer one of those instead.

  • David in Chicago

    A very merry Christmas holiday to all. As a long time reader, but rare commenter, Fred and all the Slacktivarians never fail to make me think, and often bring me hope when hope seems most distant. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

  • Hilary

    Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, blessed whatever else you’re doing or celebrating to the rest of us, and have a happy, fun-filled meaningful time for all you athiests out there.

    May we all get through the coldest, darkest time of the year with friends, family, good cheer, food and drink!


  • Merry Christmas, everyone. :)

  • Anton_Mates

    Merry Everythingmas to everyone.  I hope you’re having at least as much fun as me, and I’m still in bed with my dog, so that’s a high bar to hurdle.

  • Guest

    Merry Christmas, Fred.
    I don’t comment much but I’ve been reading your blog for years. I came for Left Behind Fridays but I’ve started reading your other posts too. Thank you  for your insight, your humour and your warmth, which shines through your writing.

    And a Merry Christmas or a Happy December the 25th to everyone reading. I hope you all had an enjoyable day.

  • Mele Kalikimaka from the mid-Pacific to Fred, his physical family, and his bloggish family as well.

  • RickRS

    Merry Christmas to Fred, Mrs. Fred, and all the slacktivistans!

    And Fred, I would really like to see the scarf that you gave to the missus.  Care to post a picture?

  • kayla

    Merry Christmas Fred. Thank you for all of the eye opening and honest posts about faith and Christianity. I know I don’t usually comment, but seriously thank you. 

  • Melinda

    Merry Christmas Fred! I love the community created by you and many other bloggers (especially those of you who are liberal Christian bloggers) – you writers provide me daily with encouragement, entertainment, and thoughts to ponder. For an ELCA girl living in small town Eastern NC surrounded by fundamentalists – this community feeds my soul. Thank you for all you contribute.

  • Michael Mock

    Merry Christmas, Fred. I’m not a terribly active commenter, but  I’ve been enjoying your writing for several years now – as well as the writing of quite a number of other people I discovered here.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Peace and good things to everyone–Fred & family, fellow commenters, artisans, refugees and trolls.

    I have a Christmas story, for anyone who’s in the story mood. I’m not at home this week–visiting family interstate. I went to Christmas morning mass by myself at a church nearby where the parish priest is a friend of mine. It’s a big, poor, multicultural parish that includes a large African community–many of the adults are refugees from the Sudanese civil war. There are several Christmas masses at this parish, and at this particular one the African choir was doing the music.

    I lost my brother this year and in periods of grief I find quiet, reflective moments particularly hard to keep my shit together. Mass has lots of these moments so I spent much of it trying to keep my shit together. During one of the hymns a woman in the choir did that awesome exuberant trilling thing that features in some African music (I’d be indebted to anyone who can tell me if it has an official name) and I, and most of the rest of the congregation, turned around in delight to see from whom this joyful noise came. As I did I caught the eye of a woman a few rows back, also sitting alone and looking like she was trying to keep shit together, and we grinned at each other through red eyes.

    At the sign of peace I turned to the elderly American (accented) couple behind me and when I smiled at the man in the wheelchair and extended my hand, he took it and kissed it (in a nice, not creepy way) and looked unusually touched that I’d acknowledged him.

    At the end of the mass I turned to the couple and said “Merry Christmas”, and the guy got all misty eyed and pulled me in for a hug. Then I went to the woman a few rows back and said “Merry Christmas” and she spontaneously gave me a hug too.

    So for Christmas I got two hugs from strangers. And for Christmas I gave two strangers a hug. 

  • syfr

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Fred, and Happy Winter Holiday of Choice to everyone else who celebrates one.

  • Kiba

    During one of the hymns a woman in the choir did that awesome exuberant trilling thing that features in some African music (I’d be indebted to anyone who can tell me if it has an official name) and I, and most of the rest of the congregation, turned around in delight to see from whom this joyful noise came.

    I believe the term is ululation.

    Hoping everyone had a happy holiday.

  • frazer

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Fred, and to all of the readers and commentators on this site.  I visit here almost daily, and have gotten a lot from it.  Thank you.

  • And a belated Merry Christmas to you. You’ve become important to this cancer-riddled, ranty atheist.

  • Thank you Fred, for buying the scarf, sharing Ra Noe’s story, and for your kind words. I hope your family enjoyed a lovely Christmas together. I’ll read your post to Ra Noe through a translator when I go visit artisans with my little girls tomorrow; she has a dear heart and I know she will love the fact that you featured her in this. And I wholeheartedly agree with you–I love this online community.

  • Persia

    A belated Merry Christmas to all of you! The Internet is an interesting way to make a community, but it really does work.

  • AnonymousSam

    A belated season’s appreciation to all my brothers and sisters throughout the invisible currents.

  • Merry Christmas, Fred. As I write sporadically but intensely about how some Christians are promoting a religion of hatred, exclusion, and death, I especially love your blog reminding me that there are plenty of Christians who stand against this redefining of their faith.

  • Guest

    That’s a beautiful story. I have a feeling the trilling you describe is called
    ululation. My dad visited Botswana and he told me that many of the women do it there.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Ululation was indeed the word I was looking for. Thanks, Kiba and Guest.