Despite it not being "my" holiday, I've always enjoyed Christmas, or at least the "spirit" of it. The sound of children laughing and the joyful feeling in the air. The sight of houses draped in twinkling lights; and bejeweled and bedecked Christmas trees placed prominently in front of living room windows, so even passers-by can admire and enjoy them ... the scent of freshly-baked cookies and pine cones ... toasty fires and hot chocolate.
But in December of 2014 -- much like this year -- I was having a really hard time getting into it. Back then it was a time hostage-takings and beheadings, hatred and brutality, lost lives and shattered hopes and dreams.
And when so many people, the world over, were struggling and suffering and in so much pain, "celebrating" just somehow seemed wrong.
The more I watched moms and dads and kids clutching brightly-coloured, filled-to-the-brim shopping bags, rushing around trying to get all their Christmas shopping done in time, the more I wondered, "do we really need more "stuff," do we really need to be buying these gifts, must we, really, when we have so much already, when so many have nothing? What about all those who have nothing to eat, who have lost their homes, their clothes, their meagre possessions, their loved ones? What about them?"
In addition to blogging here, I also have a WordPress blog. And it was there, exactly two years ago, that I wrote a letter to Santa -- asking if, just this once, instead of gifts he could deliver something much more meaningful. If maybe he could find a way to "help us all come to our senses, to help us become kinder, more generous, more tolerant, more understanding, more patient, more loving, to help us become better human beings." Couldn't he, wouldn't he?
Well, I'm sorry to say, it seems that either my letter didn't get to him or I was asking for something too difficult even for him. I'm also sorry to say that we're in even worse shape right now than we were back then.
The news from Aleppo could not be worse, a tragedy of epic proportions, with more and more innocent lives lost and in danger with each passing day.
Men, women, children, infants, entire families, bodies broken, bloodied, sometimes found barely breathing if they're lucky, but dead more often then not, buried under the rubble where once they lived. Meanwhile, after a referendum this past summer, a majority of voters in the UK said "yes" to exiting the European Union, thumbing their noses at the establishment politicians who they blame for their troubles.
In an equally surprising, but similar, upset closer to home, a dangerous and deranged man (Donald Trump, as if you didn't know), one who has lied and cheated his entire life, one who has, through his campaign rhetoric and promises, opened the floodgates of hatred, racism, bigotry, intolerance and misogyny will, horror of horrors, become president of the United States on January 20, 2017.
What to do, what to do.
So I'm reaching out to Santa once again this year, asking him to please, please forget the slippers and the pipes and the toys and the sweaters and the bicycles and the fire trucks and the princess dolls and the gizmos that will be forgotten and ignored in minutes, if not returned on Boxing Day -- and send a miracle or two our way instead.
We'd like some peace on earth.
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