It has happened. Twenty minutes ago was the official “Winter Solstice”, indicative of seasonal change. Today, depending on your point of view, is either the shortest day or longest night of the year.
For the optimists among us, it means the end of declining daylight and the beginning of lengthening days as a prelude to the warmth of spring and summer. It also means it’s only a few very short days until that most emotional of all “Christian” holidays – Christmas.
Advertising agencies, toy companies, merchandisers and retailers are bombarding us with advertisement after advertisement lauding the perfect family Christmas. Even charities are getting in on that act. We are told that, in order to truly celebrate the season properly, we must gather around the dining room table, laden with a feast fit for royalty, and be surrounded by our nearest and dearest.
For many the reality is quite different. How many children will go to bed hungry Christmas Eve and wake up on what should be the most joyous day of the year to find nothing under their Christmas tree, if indeed they even have one at all? How many lonely elderly folks will sit and stare at the phone or the front door hoping for a call or a visit from someone they care about? Many families are separated, of necessity, due to work or other commitments. Sisters and brothers, parents, children and grandchildren scattered across this vast country or even around the world. And what about the homeless, ill or otherwise tortured souls that we try to ignore at the best of times, and especially when they intrude on our own happiness? What kind of celebration will they have?
There are so many TV shows that celebrate conspicuous consumption. Armloads of merchandise, worth a small fortune, are given away to screaming, grasping hoards of people in the audiences who, in all likelihood, already have all of the appliances and goodies that they need – and more.
Regardless of your religious beliefs (or none), perhaps we should think more of others at this time of year, in fact, all year long. A new season has begun and it’s a wonderful time to look around, offer a helping hand up to those who need it, and to celebrate with heartfelt gratitude if we are among the fortunate ones.
To all of my friends, family, customers and acquaintances, I wish you joy this season. Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope it brings you and those you care about great happiness and that the coming New Year will lift hearts and spirits. And please, take a moment to think about others. Be kind and generous most especially with your time, your attention to those who need it.
Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays – Happy Hanukkah – Happy Everything!