This year it hasn't been easy to get into the Christmas spirit for a lot of people.
It began with the weather, although that has definitely seen a change in the last few days. It seemed like from Thanksgiving until just last week we were enjoying the warm days and cool nights of April. The snowstorm of last week finally brought winter to our door.
Sometimes working in the newspaper it is also hard to get into the Christmas spirit. Deadlines, lots of business (no complaint about that however) and numerous specials that are put out between Thanksgiving and the first of the year tie up our time and we all have a hard time seeing outside our little world of putting out news and advertising. Despite the fact that most of us in editorial get to see Santa with happy kids numerous times, we get to be involved in things like the Helper Light Parade, Shop with a Cop, The Messiah and other events, the rush of the job sometimes gets in the way of the will of the spirit.
Finally, this year, there was one other blow to the feelings that should go along with Christmas. The unfortunate events in Newtown, Conn. a week and a half ago took us all down a great deal. It is hard for any of us to imagine the devastation of that kind of event on any community. I think we all transferred what we have heard and have seen while asking ourselves "How would we feel if that had happened here?"
Over the years I have found that life as it goes on can ruin the joy of Christmas if we let it. I have come to the conclusion that the spirit of the season doesn't find us, we must find it.
With that thought, I had to think about all the bad we have heard about in the world this year; the looming fiscal cliff, the disaster of Hurricane Sandy, the earthquake in Japan, the mass shootings around the country, the contentious election, etc. etc. etc.
Just as we must seek the spirit of Christmas, we have to seek the good in mankind too. In fact in a way they are the same thing.
I really get tired of the "experts" telling us how screwed up we as the American people are. Look at the American public and how they have responded to the tragedies that have come and gone since Jan. 1, 2012. We poured aid and help into Japan after the earthquake. People from all over the U.S. have gone to New York and New Jersey to help people in need, and many more have contributed goods and money to those that have suffered. The shootings, particularly the last one, has brought out a response that I haven't seen since 9-11. Those on both sides of the gun rights issue may still differ about what needs to be done to curtail these kinds of events, but reasonable individuals are once again talking about what can be done and what our common ground may be to solve the problem of those who seek violence for notoriety or for revenge.
What all this shows is that the vast majority of people in our country are still good, wonderful and caring. While what has happened is a horrible thing, the entire affair has that positive side; people, regardless of age or place in the socioeconomic structure, race or religion, are compassionate and caring. If we were what many of the experts keep telling us we are (godless, narcissistic, unfeeling, self absorbed individuals) why would we be revealing such feelings and sentiments about what has happened?
If there is anything to raise your mood, particularly your Christmas spirit, it should be this. It should be that we still live in the best country in the world, one that is a shining beacon to the globe despite our problems and we are a people that care about our neighbors and our citizens.
So for a day or two, ignore the pundits that say how bad we are, how we are not what we used to be, how we have strayed from our beginnings. Concentrate on the good that we have done and continue to do in the world. Think about your neighbors, your family and your conviction that you have to making the world a better place for everyone.
That is the true Christmas spirit, and the American spirit all of us have inside us.