I have a confession. Last month, I said Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. I think I lied. It’s really Christmas. I don’t really like the chaos, or the gift wrapping, card sending or shopping, or the organizing and running from place to place. What I do like, is what I think Christmas is supposed to bring. It’s supposed to bring hope. And if I had to pick just one gift to give this whole world, it would definitely be hope.

Human rights activist Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” And these seem to be some pretty dark times. In a world where politicians argue all day, every day on television, where minorities are still oppressed and discriminated against, where there is so much pain and sorrow that the suicide rates of children have increased by 56% in a 10-year span. In a world where there is war and fighting and death and murder and overdoses and pain. A world of suffering, fear and poverty. In a world where 15-year-old girls die by suicide and leave their families, friends and communities amass in grief. How can we have hope in a world like that? Shouldn’t the real question be, “How can we not have hope in a world like this?” All of these things, and countless others, are the reasons we need to find hope.

At the risk of offending some for sounding too “Jesus-y,” I quote my favorite Christmas carol, “The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices,” and later, “Truly he taught us to love one another. His law is love and his gospel is peace. All chains shall he break. Everyone is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease.” Whether you are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist or something else, you have to admit that it sounds like this Jesus guy was the first human rights activist. He was the Desmond Tutu or the Martin Luther King Jr. of Bible times. To be clear, I am not in the business of religious conversion and my intentions are far from that. I don’t care if you think Jesus was the son of God or not. I only care that you hear this message and realize the importance of hope. Because I am in the business of living in a hopeful, accepting and “love one another” kind of world. The kind of world brought to us by hope.

I know for some, the holidays bring back bad memories, disappointment, grief, sadness and loneliness, but I urge you to see it for what it should be— a season of hope. In spite of everything going on in this world, I hope you strive to find hope. Because hope is the very thing that we need in order to keep going, to keep living. To get us through this crazy holiday season, in this crazy world. So never give up hoping. You are worth all the hope. Whoever you worship — whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you pray for or meditate about hope; about those who have lost hope and those who could just use a little more.

Have a hopeful holiday season.

Toni Plante grew up in Wayzata. She lives in Minnetonka with her husband, Al, and their two dogs. Her remaining child, Leo, lives in NYC. She, her family and extended family all miss Ana terribly. Suicide prevention and mental health are her passion. She is not a therapist or a counselor. She is a parent who is committed to making a difference by sharing her experience.

This column is meant to offer insight and awareness, not advice. If you have suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741

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