Do you feel pressure this time of year? Do you feel the need to get everything done…on time…on budget… and with a holiday smile? The other day my scrooge started kicking in. The to-list was growing. Trees, wreathes, cards, decorations, stockings, holly, cookies, gifts. I needed to get into the spirit. Then I turned on the radio and this happened…
“And so this is Christmas…”
John Lennon’s unmistakable voice came on. I listened, feeling the annual stirring. It occurred to me I’ve heard “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” every December of my 36-year marriage.
It took me back to the first holiday Randy and I spent together as newlyweds. We had a tiny condo and decorated a Ficus tree with strings of white lights. Hearing this song was especially poignant since Lennon had been assassinated a few weeks earlier.
Years later I heard that song played, except now we had a house and a real tree. Two little boys danced around, waiting for Santa. They woke us at 5:45 a.m., breathless with excitement, jumping on our bed.
The years passed. And John Lennon sang again, this time on an I-Pod. Those little boys are now young men with full beards. Instead of waking at 5:45 a.m., they have to be coerced to the living room by 9:30 a.m., mugs of coffee in hand.
“And what have you done…”
Lennon seems to be asking what we did with these 365 days. Did we try and help? Did we do our best? Did we learn? Did we grow? I hope I encouraged and loved and was there. I hoped I gave a smile and kind words when needed. I hope I was a good wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.
Still, so many do much more. I see nurses and teachers who dedicate their lives to others. I have family and friends who spend their time helping the needy, children, and stray animals. They inspire me to do better.
“Another year over…”
This was a tough one. My Dad passed away. We also lost Randy’s Mom and our sweet dog, Simon. There was too much death.
And yet good things happened. In the hospital where I visited my ailing father, I saw countless acts of kindness. Both my sons found vocations they love. My husband Randy still happily plunks away on his bass. The sun still shines. And I still love my morning cup of tea. Life goes on.
“A new one just begun…”
Doesn’t 2017 seem impossibly futuristic? I pray we turn a corner, although it’s hard to be hopeful. The country is divided. Another mass killing takes place and my stomach drops. My generation didn’t grow up like this nor did my parents’. My heart goes out to young people who must navigate this world.
And yet, judging by my sons and their friends I know they’ll be okay. This group is brave, strong and resilient. They’ll not only make it through, but will someday make a difference.
“And so Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…”
Or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanzaa. Lately politicians work to anger us, focusing on differences, giving reasons to hate and fear each other.
I used to volunteer at Mercy Learning Center, a literacy school for women in a tough section of Bridgeport, CT. During the holidays students were encouraged to share traditions. One by one, females from Pakistan, Laos, Jamaica, and Senegal stood and told their stories. One thing always struck me. Whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim, they took great pride in family, food, and culture. In the end, we’re more alike than different.
“Let’s hope it’s a good one… without any fear”
John Lennon died 36 years ago this week. I remember waking that morning in 1980, hearing these shocking words on the radio: “He’s survived by his widow, Yoko Ono and son Sean.” I turned to Randy in disbelief. He nodded sadly. He’d heard the news the night before but didn’t want to wake me.
I kept wondering how would the globe spin without John Lennon? Who would lead the cause for peace and non-violence? It seemed impossible he was gone. Yet the years sped by and here we are.
And now I can’t help wonder…what would Lennon say about the world today?
“War is over. If you want it…”
The song ends. And I feel right again.
Whatever petty Yuletide problems I have don’t matter. “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” reminds me this holiday is more than tinsel and evergreens. Christmas is about time passing. It’s about life and love and family. Christmas is about finding joy where you can. Christmas is about hope.
Thank you John Lennon. You did it once again. And I still miss you.
Do you have a favorite holiday song that puts you right? I’d love to hear. Thanks for commenting and if you’d like to share, feel free.