It might be a time decked in merriment, but the holiday season isn’t easy on a reporter.
The sad stories come out, the tales that beg to be told because you wonder who would do this… and right before Christmas of all times. Human tragedy just seems that much worse under the multi-colored lights of the holiday season.
A father is diagnosed with a rare disease and can’t put presents under the tree for his kids.
A child loses her best friend and favorite Christmas present, the dog who has gotten her through every moment when it was just tough to be a kid. I wrote about them both last week, and when the paper had been put to bed, I was tired.
I went home, kicked off my shoes and looked around.
There are signs of Christmas commercialism in our house for sure.
There’s a singing snowman from that chief of holiday schmaltz, the Hallmark company. Hanging in the archway at the end of the living room is a stocking already stuffed – and decorated in Classic Winnie the Pooh finery.
I could apologize for letting Disney take over a holiday once rooted in religion.
But I won’t.
Yes, technically, Jesus is the reason for the season – at least in our Christian household.
In others it is the miracle of that single night’s worth of oil that burned for eight long days.
The religious connotations of the 12th month cannot be lost, and it’s only proper that we honor our own special beliefs in the coming weeks.
But beginning on Thanksgiving Day and usually lasting well through the Epiphany in January there’s a feeling of well-being, the type that allows us to wallow in the depths of Bing Crosby’s croon and wipe a few tears at George Bailey’s rediscovery of himself.
The holidays are distinct days, set apart for celebration by Jews and Christians (and on a cultural level, by the folks who set aside some time for Kwanzaa).
But the season has transcended religion.
Commercial or not, it’s about giving.
It’s about going over the top – buying toys not just for our own girls and boys but a few extras to toss in the Marine Corps boxes on the street corners.
It’s about peeling a few dollars we can barely spare off our bank rolls and slipping them wordlessly into the palm of the young mother desperately watching the total climb on the grocery register.
For me the essence of Sunday school and Mass every week could be compressed into one simple motto, tattooed on every child fresh from the womb – do unto others.
Filling their lives with excess for just one season can’t hurt if it’s done the right way – with presents for them, and a few for the Toys for Tots bin; with cookies for them and a plate full for the local bake sale.
What do I believe in this holiday season?
Celebrating is the answer.
Not with presents per se or candy canes. Not with the tree or the stockings. But with everything and everyone.
They tell me it’s contagious.
That’s how I muddle through the depressing stories of the holiday – content in the knowledge that people who know how to celebrate the season can help make even the darkest hours bright again.
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