One in the morning, and I’m sitting in the dark blogging, even though I have to be awake at 4:30. We have friends sleeping in the guest room. A packing glitch in San Jose stranded them in DFW for the night, and it would be wrong to make anyone stay in an airport hotel at Christmas, or Hanukkah, or, for that matter, any other day, when we have the time and space to let them stay here. I told my mother about it, when she called to tell me the box I sent for Christmas would be available for pickup tomorrow morning (mailing anything to her part of Baja is a bit of an adventure). She told me it was a lovely gesture at Christmas time, and said, “Always room at the inn, right?”
So we drove to the airport, and found our wayward travelers. I’d made a pot of chili, so there was hot food waiting, and we had a nice chat over dinner before toddling off to our respective beds. It doesn’t matter that these are friends we’d never met face-to-face before – we read each others blogs, know intimate details of each others lives, and now, have faces to go with names and usernames. Anyone who thinks net friends somehow don’t count has clearly never been stranded at an airport in December, with no one to call, but a healthy contact list of emailable friends.
Not that they called – I offered. I know if our positions were reversed, and they had the space, they’d do the same. I know most of the folks I know online would, as well. Whether we share the same political, social, religious beliefs, or not, we share the common language of geekiness.
One of my friends here in Texas uses a Star Trek: the Next Generation reference to explain it. She says, “we share the same Darmok,” or “we get each other’s Darmok,” and the thing is, we all do. We may not all have the same list of fandoms, games, favorite iPhone apps, or outlooks on life, but we all have a similar generosity of spirit, one that completely transcends time and space, and allows us to send flowers or text a hug, offer a spare bed, clean up the audio for a podcast, share a video, edit a resume, or just send a supportive email message, with the same ease of any friends who interact solely offline, and in some cases, because interacting through written communication lets us be more candid, the friendships we have grow deeper, ultimately, and we are richer for it.
It’s just after one AM on Christmas Eve. It’s the middle of Hanukkah. It’s a couple of days after Solstice, and it’s the heart of Yuletide. It’s a time to give and receive the gifts of our hearts, hands, and minds. It is a time to spread love and joy. It is a time to welcome strangers as friends, and be open to new possibilities and fresh hopes.
It’s a time to remember that whatever may or may not have happened 2000-ish years ago in Bethlehem, today, tonight, this year, this century, there is always room in Darmok’s Inn.