It’s officially holiday time. Every car radio, storefront, and grocery store playlist wherever you are is probably announcing that it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Those words strike a chord with nearly everyone, it seems. There’s the sparkle-eyed group, nodding in festive agreement, and then there’s the unconvinced group who hears those lyrics and looks down at the sidewalk, reminded yet again of the loss or hurt that has tainted the holiday season for them.
This year, especially, probably has more people who are having difficulty getting into “holiday cheer” mode.
At the core of this group distinction, though, there is a surprising unity. When the end-of-the-year months roll around, we all know intuitively that this holiday season is about one thing: love.
The burden of and need for love
Love is beautiful and needed, but it can also be tragic.
December usually brings merry gatherings of old friends, family, and new acquaintances. Generations come together to connect and care for one another, and ring in the New Year. Maybe this year your festivities will still be digital and socially-distanced, but they’ll be no less special and meaningful.
For so many, though, such warm assemblies rekindle memories of loved ones who used to be present at these gatherings…but aren’t around any longer. Or, as so many holiday songs suggest, the festivities can bring to mind people we love and wish were with us but are not—one-sided loves, secret crushes, absent but loved family members, and those relationships with whom we can’t seem to make things right.
It’s more than cultural—it’s biological. The simple fact is that everyone wants and needs love. At the end of the day, if we are with those we love, receiving a few gifts or none at all is just fine. If love evades our holiday, all the gifts in the world can feel empty, even for the person who seems to “have it all.”
How is this holiday centrality of love a positive or healthy thing?
No matter what sadness or cynicism hangs around during the holidays, even and especially in 2020, this is a time when we can focus on love, which is the most crucial and important gift of all to living a full and healthy life—love for self, and love for others.
Love and relationships are something we all share
The holiday-obsessed and the holiday-haters have the most crucial thing in common—the capacity for love. And there are always people to love and connect with, even and especially if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut with those in your immediate circle.
Whether it be your siblings’ support after a tough breakup, or swapping cookies and stories with your coworker instead of your frustrating parents, we believe love can be found and forged wherever you are.
And then, maybe best of all, we have a chance to love and give back to those who could especially use an extra dose of relational support. There are those experiencing homelessness, communities that can’t afford decorations and gifts, and neighbors right next door with needs we might not even know about. And there are men, women, and children stuck in systems of violence and exploitation who don’t have the luxury of enjoying the holiday time at all.
The bottom line is, we’re not just an anti-porn movement—we’re a movement of people who reject the hollow counterfeits of porn and dive into real (and sometimes messy) relationships because that’s what’s healthiest and ultimately makes the world a more positive place.
So, with that in mind, spend some time thinking about unique ways that you can tangibly show up and fight for real love this holiday season.
What only takes from the world, and what gives back?
Whether with a romantic partner, a family member, a friend, a stranger, or a person or community in need, there is an opportunity for love whenever there’s an opportunity for real connection and giving back. In the face of loss, difficulty, or loneliness, it can seem easiest to retreat into fantasy and hiding, but retreat only diminishes the love within and around you.
That’s the difference between real love and porn—love connects and supports, while porn is a fantasy that empties and isolates.
Commit to pursue love in your own life and offer love to the lives of others, and commit to ditching what pulls you away from achieving the healthiest possible relationships. Digging into the possibility and potential of celebrating the love in your life this season can mean giving up the artificial “love” found in porn, and encouraging others around you to do the same.
This can also look something like overcoming that fear of small-talk and asking to share a brief presentation in class or at work on the sex trafficking crisis that’s fueled by porn, and encouraging everyone present to donate to local groups fighting for freedom and an end to sexual exploitation.
Give yourself and others the best gift this year: love
We exist at Fight the New Drug because we believe real love is worth seeking, protecting, and celebrating.
Be bold and choose love and relationships, platonic or otherwise, over the isolation of porn and the comparison it brings. In this season, we can all find ways to love, and focus on what’s most important: connecting with others who we can tangibly give back to, and vice versa.
Be open to seeing the real needs around you and meeting them with real love. In this way, no matter your background or holiday tradition (or lack thereof), we’re all fighting for the one thing this movement is all about: real love.