“Wishing people a Merry Christmas feel wrong right now,” my mother said as she put her stack of to-be-written Christmas cards aside and moved on to the monotony of ironing my father’s shirts. “It doesn’t seem like there’s much to be merry about.”
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has punched the nation in the gut, taking the air out of our collective lungs and with it, the joy out of the season. Elementary schools are more than institutions of learning. They are supposed to be community builders and safe havens for our children. Something sacred has been desecrated.
“We’re being extra sensitive. People don’t feel like celebrating. People just need Christmas to be over with,” the publisher of a news paper observed in a phone conference with me and my boss.
Indeed, our hearts are all heavy. Making merry seems out of place.
People just need Christmas to be over with.
As I walked up Manhattan’s 5th Avenue from Bryant Park Friday night, watching families walk hand-in-hand to take in the Saks windows and Rockefeller tree or make their way to the Bryant Park skating rink, I was struck with a realization — we don’t need Christmas to be over with.
What we need is a little Christmas.
Christmas is about family. Christmas is about togetherness. Christmas is about healing. Christmas is about transcendence.
Think about it: here we are in the middle of winter, the trees are bare, the thermometer low, and yet the world is lit-up with beams of multicolor lights. Christmas is something we can rely on — it comes back, year after year, no matter what the circumstances. It’s a time to remember and to be thankful, and this year we must all be thankful for each other, for having a Christmas to share.
26 families in Newtown, CT are having a hard time in finding joy in the season, of this there is no doubt. For those of us that are lucky to be with friends and family, this is the year to hold everyone we care about a little closer and acknowledge how precious these moments of togetherness are.
Life is short.
Embrace the season.
Let yourself be joyful.
Get caught under the mistletoe.
Drink that extra cup of cocoa.
Hug your child/parent/spouse an extra time.
Leave cookies & milk out for Santa.
Look in wonder at your bedazzled Christmas tree.
Be a kid at heart.
And at the end of the night, say an extra set of prayers — one for the families in Newtown, whose Christmases will never be the same, and one to say Thank You for the Christmas you have today.