It is a happy coincidence that so many holiday traditions occur within weeks of each other in the November-December timeframe. Hannukah, Advent, Los Posadas, Saint Nicholas Day, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, the list goes on, and each one comes with its own customs that involve bringing together family, friends, and community.
As the years go by, we accumulate memories that come to mind during the holidays, and the more memories we accumulate, the more nostalgic we become. With that nostalgia comes the risk of melancholy, captured by the words of John Greenleaf Whittier in the poem, “Maud Muller,” about a chance encounter between a young farm maid and a judge where, though taken with each other, neither acted on their desires, leaving them to reminisce about their meeting throughout their lives.
God pity them both! and pity us all,
Who vainly the dreams of youth recall.
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”
To such thinking, we say, “Humbug!” We believe that the holiday season should be a time for hope, a time to entertain nostalgia, but to avoid the negativity of melancholy. It also can be a time to appreciate the different holiday traditions that we hold dear, and allow all of us as a nation, to celebrate the free expression of beliefs among people of diverse backgrounds that gives meaning to our national motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” out of many, one.
In keeping with the season, turning outward and embracing hope gives us the joy experienced by Dickens’ Ebeneezer Scrooge, who, having his closed heart vivified by the Spirits of Christmas,
… became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city
knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people
laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them;
for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good,
at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that
such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle
up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed:
and that was quite enough for him.
Whatever your background or tradition, the Coalition wishes you and yours the hope of the season, the laughter enjoyed with family and friends, and the blessings of health and happiness in the New Year.