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Enjoy a warm, merry Christmas

By The Mercury

If you’ve had trouble this year keeping the “Christmas spirit,” you’re probably not alone.

Massacres in elementary schools and the subsequent debate over firearms clash with the joy we associate with this season. So does the aftermath of the superstorm that brought an altogether different kind of devastation to American communities.

Word that Syrian aircraft bombed civilians in line at a bakery and the apparent suicide of a Navy SEAL commander, just one of thousands of U.S. military personnel serving far from home, hardly conjure up Christmasy thoughts. And, of course, the contentious debate about the “fiscal cliff” has added economic uncertainty to American households that have grown weary of it.

It’s difficult not to wonder whether tonight will be a “Silent Night, Holy Night” in Bethlehem, which is in one of the most violently contested areas of the planet.

If these conflicts siphon some of the joy from this season, they also make Christmas and the goodwill this season engenders all the more necessary. This, after all, is the time of year when millions upon millions of people open their hearts — and their pocketbooks — to help others, people who as often as not are complete strangers. Citizens in all walks of life — many of whom are struggling themselves — get involved in fundraising drives in communities nationwide to help others feel good, warm and cared about at Christmas.

Much of the spirit generated at Christmas is religious, and for good reason. But the goodwill exists as well in people who aren’t churchgoers but who are moved by an unseen spirit. The lights and the carols — secular and religious — contribute, but they’re as much reflections of the spirit as causes for it.

Whether it’s magic or one of the miracles of Christmas, it’s worth clinging to as long as we can. Who knows, perhaps if enough of us could make it last through the year, it could soften some of the hearts hardened by greed, cruelty, violence and war. If that is asking too much, let us at least make the most of this spirit while it lasts.

We’ve been told that if Christmas came every day, it wouldn’t be Christmas. We might not get as excited about what’s under the tree if the wrapped gifts were endless, but we doubt we would tire of the great gift that sets this season apart.

We wish all of you a warm and merry Christmas.

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