Our white Christmas held, though temperatures hovered on the edge of snowmelt. The longest night of the year was past, hours of daylight not obviously growing but very clearly not shrinking any more. Doug put on his Santa hat to bring cookies to the neighbors; I queued up my extensive playlist of Christmas music.
This holiday means many things to many people, and nothing annoys one group like being told what it means to another. The Christian, the Secular, the Druidical, all sides have made arguments for ownership. The central factor in everybody’s story is light overcoming darkness, yet there are partisans unwilling to concede even that their stories have a central factor, let alone what it is. Trying to convince each other of the truth of your faith is difficult, because religious feeling is like love. When you love someone, you know it – it has perhaps hit you over the head with great insistence – but when you try to explain it to somebody else, well, you sound like a babbling idiot. Why do you love him? Because he’s wonderful. This is woefully lacking in detail. The only way anyone will understand it is, if they have been or are in love themselves, and recognize the futility of explanation. Emotional truth is not susceptible to logical argument.
I find that readings of the Christmas story don’t do much for me, with their words that fly in the face of experience. But carols are something else. The music carries with it the feelings of hope, of yearning for goodness, for love, for reassurance that life will go on, that are the universal aspirations of humankind. Music, like love, rises above the need for explanation.
We woke up on the 26th to a warm rain and a world of fog. A row of deer stood in the backyard, silhouettes barely visible in the mist, like Santa’s off shift taking a well-earned break. It will be cold and snowy again, and soon, but today the grass stands up for the deer to graze, and no wind blows. Life is good.