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What Cheer

January 6, 2015

Lately I feel a little bit like The Joe Biden Random Compliment Generator: real and not real, slightly disturbing but possibly a little bit brilliant all at the same time. This holiday season, several people I care about have said in all seriousness, in one form or another, “Angie, I need you to cheer me up.” And, one way or another, I have.

There’s something about the request that feels both vulnerable and bold, false and transparent, needy and giving. Asking to be cheered up requires confession. You confess to me you are lacking; I admit to you I am willing and able to play at, and with, happiness in the hopes of creating the real thing in you. You reveal your hurt, your dispiritedness; I conceal my doubt that I can make it, or you, better.

You need me. I enjoy being needed, and then I do the best I can to meet that need – both in the hopes you’ll no longer need me and also, if I’m truthful, in the hopes it will be me you need the next time you feel this way again.

Whether I’m across a desk or the dining room table or somewhere on the other side of the country, we are both getting something out of this arrangement. You know that don’t you? I hope so. Then again, maybe I don’t.

What is cheer, then, holiday or otherwise, but the most generous and most selfish gift we give?

Happy New Year to those whose spirits I’ve somehow managed to lift. You’ve lifted mine, too.


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