Yes, today is December 25th, Christmas Day, a day of peace and joy for Christians around the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. A day for exchanging gifts, visiting family and friends, eating too much, and generally beginning the process of ending one difficult year and beginning a new one on a happy note.
Our family tradition is to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, and yesterday we enjoyed the company of our daughter Yasmin and son-in-law Vin for the traditional ham and potato salad dinner and the opening of the gifts, the two events separated by a severe trouncing of the men by the ladies at Scrabble (in defense of Vin and I, we did get stuck with the Q, and at one time had four O's out of seven letters in our deck). In spite of the miserable outcome of the Scrabble game, we did have a warm and wonderful family evening.
Which many people, sadly, did not enjoy.
The many thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen (including my oldest son) fighting in Iraq and stationed around the world can't enjoy the safe and happy company of their loved ones, and live in a state of constant danger.
The citizens of Iraq, mired in a savage sectarian conflict, wouldn't be able to enjoy the holiday, even if they celebrated it.
Palestinians and Israelis are too busy hating each other to enjoy the holiday, even if they celebrated it.
Ethiopia and Somalia are now officially at war (you'd think they had enough problems).
As we celebrate the birthday of the man Christians call the Prince of Peace, peace seems to be in short supply.
When the way in which you worship God is more important than the fact that you worship Him at all...when people who worship God in a way other than you do are considered hated infidels, are denied salvation, or are otherwise looked on as less than human, something is very wrong. Wouldn't it be grand if everyone could agree that simply believing in God and living a good and moral life is more important than whether one worships at a church, a temple, a mosque, or a synagogue? Somehow, I think the world would be a much better place if it were so.
Whether you are a Christian (Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, or whatever), a Muslim (whether Shiite or Sunni), a Jew (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, or whatever), a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Wiccan, or whatever, I wish you a safe and happy holiday and hope that the spirit of tolerance will inspire you in the new year.
But I'm not holding my breath.
Have a Merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a good Kwanzaa, a great Winter Solstice, or whatever you choose to celebrate. Just be safe, and be good to your neighbor.
More thoughts coming.