Once upon a time, small town newspaper editor Hester Adams published my positive yet refreshingly anticipatory teen-aged poem extolling the virtues of Christmas circa 1960. Annually, somewhat tediously, Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, in myriad formats, reminds us to set aside bitterness and past injustices while reaching out to our fellow-men. Perry Como crooned, perkily yet presciently, of humans behaving like jack-asses “ev’ry single day but one!” Perry got it right as he warbled “A Christmas Dream” composed by Andrew Lloyd-Webber.
As years pass, the innocence of childhood dissipates. Knowledge grows regarding: man’s inhumanity toward man; self-absorption; lack of genuine compassion for our entire spectrum of suffering, struggling humanity; disinterest toward animal welfare; pretentious, benefactor-aggrandizing, high-profile, charitable “causes” focusing on momentary fixes for only select groups; petty animosities; destructive competitiveness; deficits of spiritual generosity.
Tersely signed greeting cards, impersonal obligatory–often pricey–“token” gifts, over-crowded calendars, flurries of “one-ups-man-ship” baking contests, free-flowing booze, and obsessive lawn-decorating all fall short. Holiday harassment builds upon itself until that magic day arrives, pressured expectations of fulfillment seldom met. Public arguments arise concerning nativity displays nestling on governmental property as well as disputed salutations of “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas”. Credit cards max out while interest rates hike. Thanksgiving gatherings, no matter how noble we may pretend to be, serve quite simply as a prelude to Black Friday rather than heralding the “holiest” of seasons.
I review my naive words of 50 years past: “I WONDER–do they forget–those people who say, ‘Christmas is not the same’ or ‘Christmas is so commercialized’ or ‘If only we could go back to the good old days’? I WONDER–do they not know–that through the eyes of children and to grandparents welcoming home-coming families, to worshippers hearing the age-old story and to carolers sharing the joys of singing and to shoppers buying for those they love–Christmas is still the same, a time of WONDER and a time of love?”
Today, I Wonder whatever in this world I might have been thinking!