Thoughts on an Uncommonly “Dickensonian” Christmas Season

This post is a belated, if somewhat somber Holiday Greeting to all of the visitors who, by one path or another, have found their way to the pages of this Blog during the preceding year. I sincerely appreciate your interest in my sometimes peculiar and always frivolous musings. However, I must confess that in the days leading up to this Christmas Holiday, I had a hard time deciding on what, if anything, to post about the current Holiday Season. We seem to be living through a troubling, even an anxious period in our history; for that reason, the usual festive mood of this time of year seems noticeably muted. Maybe it is just me, but Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has never seemed more poignant or appropriate than it does right now.

Saying Farewell at Christmas

Traditionally, of course, the celebration of Christmas is both an uplifting period of religious renewal, and a festive time for gift-giving and for the gathering together of friends and family. That, at least, is what we and most of our friends typically expect during this, the “happiest” time of year. The Christmas of 2009, on the other hand, has turned out to be a very big let-down for a great many Americans. And, as the present year rapidly winds to a close, I think that it is fitting that we remember the millions of our fellow citizens who are presently without work and who now, through no fault of their own, find themselves facing serious financial hardship. This situation is especially troubling because, in many cases, their plight could actually be far worse.

Welcome Home Daddy

In point of fact, this Holiday Season would be even more difficult for many struggling American families without badly-needed assistance from the privately-funded charities and other non-profit organizations that tirelessly labor on the behalf of those in need. Thus, I think that it is important to remember — particularly when economic conditions are tough, as they are now — that the many worthwhile charities that work in our various communities across the country all depend on the voluntary contributions of individual donors. In times like these, private generosity — not just at Christmas, but year-round — really matters. It truly is “more blessed to give than to receive.”

A Korean War Christmas

In addition, I think that it is fitting that — at this time of year, particularly — we direct our thoughts and prayers towards the American servicemen and women who daily face an implacable enemy on our behalf in many distant and dangerous corners of the world. They are the first and truest guardians of our way of life, and their overseas’ deployment is a hardship that must be borne both by them, and by their family members back home. For that reason, I urge that we all take the time to remember and honor those fellow Americans who, because of their military service, are bound by duty to spend this and other Christmases separated from their families and loved-ones. Their ongoing gift to the rest of us, because of the many sacrifices that it entails, is a very special one, indeed.

American Soldiers, Ardennes, 1944

Finally, as we approach a brand new year, let us all fervently hope that it will, in due course, end on a more up-beat note than 2009! Perhaps, the worst news really is behind us; if so, then ever the optimist, I will, with fingers crossed, wish everyone a Happy New Year for 2010.


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