Happy Holidays

Searching for the Holiday Spirit after Newtown

With Christmas coming so soon after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut many of us are wondering how to find joy in a season of such overwhelming grief.  Could anyone imagine celebrating Christmas under the pall that has spread since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School? The answer, somehow, is yes. . Along with a huge sense of loss, this year’s holiday brings an appreciation for how fleeting life can be. The holiday season should remind us that it is not about words but rather about caring about others and respecting their traditions.  It is the charity in our hearts to consider others, to volunteer our time, to donate and to try to make this world a better place, each in our own special way.

Each of us may have different traditions with different memories and different stories of the celebration of our holidays, but our wishes are all the same. Whether one is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or any other faith is not the important lesson of the season. Believing in the spirit of the holiday season – whatever or whomever you choose or choose not to believe in.

For twenty-six years, I have been a member of the Noteables, a women’s singing group.  When we began our weekly rehearsals in September for the 2012 holiday concert series, none of the members could have forecast the importance of one of the musical selections by our director Chris Puk. The words meaningful and the message poignant, the Noteables sang ‘Prayer to the Children’ this concert season.  Dedicated to the young lives lost in Newtown, Connecticut and to children all over the world, may love, joy and peace be with you this holiday season.

To all who read Community Matters, best wishes to you and your families — May we all learn to practice tolerance and appreciate the gift of respecting each other’s holidays, traditions and opinions.

Prayer for the Children
Words by Cathryne Parks

Say a prayer for the children,
All around the world.
Say a prayer for little hearts,
The little boys and girls.

Guard them as your treasures,
Valuable and rare.
Lead them through the storms of life,
Encircle them with care.

Guard their steps with love, love of humanity,
Members of one family.
Different societies, yet born of one,
Born of one.

Tuck them safely in at night;
Listen to their fears.
Tell them magic fairy tales,
And dry their little tears.

Share with them a love of life;
Show them how to care.
Help them see with open eyes,
Great wonders everywhere.

Say a prayer for all of them,
For the little ones out there.
A prayer.

Merry Christmas versus Happy Holiday . . . Does it Really Matter?

Each of us may have different traditions with different memories and different stories of the celebration of our holidays, but our wishes are all the same. Whether one is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or any other faith is not the important lesson of the season. Believing in the spirit of the holiday season – whatever or whomever you choose or choose not to believe in – is a special time and a time to reach out to the less fortunate.

No matter whom you might worship, or not worship, or by what creed, faith, or practice you choose to acknowledge isn’t what is important.  It is the empathy to understand there are many who are not as lucky to have a warm bed, a roof over their head, or food on their table.  To understand and to give to those of us less fortunate is what makes us human and this time of the year special, not whether you say the words “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”.

The disagreement over the use of Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays leaves some people worried about offending someone of their choice of greetings. At times, this ‘politically correctness’ debate reaches a dull roar, often so loud that you can barely make out the “peace on earth, goodwill to men” feeling that we should be all be sharing.

The holiday season should remind us that it is not about words but rather about caring about others and respecting their traditions.  It is the charity in our hearts to consider others, to volunteer our time, to donate and to try to make this world a better place, each in our own special way.

President Ronald Reagan delivered a Christmas address to the nation thirty years ago.  Three decades later, his words are as meaningful today as they were in 1981.

“In spite of everything, we Americans are still uniquely blessed, not only with the rich bounty of our land but by a bounty of the spirit — a kind of year-round Christmas  spirit that still makes our country a beacon of hope in a troubled world and that makes this Christmas and every Christmas even more special for all of us who number among our gifts the birthright of being an American.”                ~ Ronald Reagan

In closing, it is not whether you say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings but rather it is about believing in the spirit of the season.

To all who read Community Matters, best wishes to you and your families this holiday season.  And may we all learn to practice tolerance and appreciate the gift of respecting each other’s holidays and traditions.

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