"Seasons Greetings." "Happy Holidays." "Merry Christmas." 'Peace On Earth." "Bah Humbug."
Goodness mercy me! I've spent literally hours looking for just the right greeting and that perfect image to include in my holiday message to family and friends, but it seems that no matter what I might say or how I say it I'm bound to offend "someone." In the meantime, the cards and emails keep coming: religious, funny, horsey, satirical, beautiful, not so beautiful, some with simple messages, some with dire warnings that I'd better be good or else.
None of these cards "offend" me. Quite the opposite, in fact. I'm profoundly touched that people take the time to send a greeting card of any kind - it could contain a few ashes and small twigs for all I care. At least I'm on somebody's list, so one way or the other they must be thinking about me. And each card usually produces more than a few flashbacks of delicious times together - the warm and fuzzy kind as well as the epicurean kind.
There's a lot I don't like about the holiday season, such as the shopping frenzies and the misguided notion that Christmas is all about gifts, but I unabashedly and wholeheartedly love the music, the classic kind, the kind that transports one's heart and soul to a realm of contentment and peace not found in many other places. NPR's classical music station has been offering a steady diet of traditional and incredibly beautiful Christmas music for over a week and my spirits simply soar with it.
So, when someone objects to another's Christmas card for whatever reason, it jars my senses and destroys my inner peace. I become not just offended, I resent the heck out of it. Where's the spirit of Christmas in this? Would Sarah Palin have objected less if the official White House card had looked like this 2004 card from George W. Bush?
Or, maybe this one from Reagan in 1989.
Or this one from Bush in 2005.
Oops! Maybe not. Poor Bo. He destroyed Christmas at the White House just by lying all snug and warm in front of a beautifully decorated fireplace while visions of sugarbones danced through his head.
Compared to most of the official White House cards, which can be found here, I frankly find this one pretty inviting. I just want to step into the picture, sit before the fire with Bo and enjoy the warmth of the Christmas spirit while listening to some beautiful choral music.
The spirit of Christmas and the holiday season means many different things to different people, of course, and that's as it should be. While I don't find offence with anyone's message or their method of celebration, I do become highly offended when the spirit of Christmas is sullied by politics or cheap criticism of another's message. This is a time to embrace our families and enjoy our friends, or if one's church is their center, to attend services of their choice. If religion plays a minimal role or no role at all, it is a time to share a family's love.
To me, the Christmas spirit is all about family. Music is a close second but my family ranks first and foremost when I think of the holiday season. We are a microcosm of society as a whole with no two of the many of us agreeing on much of anything. We're kind of like fruitcake as a matter of fact - lots of nuts and fruits of different flavors all held together by love in the form of molasses and a little flour. As we "cure", we grow stronger and sweeter and our many flavors are enhanced and multiplied. My family is the center of my universe and my reason for being. I wish all of them large doses of love and hopes for a very merry Christmas.
Friends - in real life and those I've met through blogging and on Facebook - are the spirits which just keep on giving - all year long. I'm happy to say we don't always agree on everything either. How dull would that be? Your gifts of knowledge which you so willingly share, your challenges to my way of thinking that may, or may not, bring me around to your way of thinking, your friendship and support are the best gifts a blogger can receive. I wish all of you a warm and wonderful holiday season.
I'd like to finish by sharing the last part of Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelo. This is a very moving poem and was first read at the 2005 White House tree-lighting ceremony.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
to translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices to celebrate the promise of
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation:
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul