"The Christmas cards have all been sent," Karen Carpenter sang more than 40 years ago, and, indeed, we have mailed our cards this year, and the house is decorated with greenery and lights and whimsical statuettes of angels and elves. The wicks are blackened on three candles in the Advent wreath. But we've forgone the traditional Christmas letter we've occasionally indulged in. We won't recount the year that saw so much unhappiness and grief.
In this last week before Christmas, the holiday seems more distant than imminent. The season changes when young children are no longer in the house with their infectious excitement. I recall my mother complaining that she just couldn't get into "the Christmas spirit" for her favorite holiday. I know the feeling.
It's easy to think you've seen it all before after about the 50th or 60th rendition of this holiday. The stress of so many things to do and so much to take care of dims the brightness of holiday lights. And this year has tempered holiday joy with unexpected tragedy.
We will gather with family and wrap our arms around the people we most want to be with on Christmas and on every other occasion, and we will fight against the temptation to think, "I'll be glad when it's over." Instead, I'll be glad for every happiness these dark nights and chilly days can bring me. And for Christmas, in all its varied meanings.