Dear Readers - Merry Christmas! Whether marked by snowy scenes or green landscapes, traditional front-door wreaths or huge polyester inflatable Santas, ‘tis the season around the world.
Whatever you remember, treasure, and tried to re-create for your children among your favourite Christmas memories, millions of different scenes are resurrected by others for today’s annual holiday.
The images are personal - for me at ten, a towering Balsam fir tree outside the house next door, its colourful lights guiding me from the main street to my home after dark, when my piano lessons ended.
The scenes are universal - years later, a mall in Bali, with brightly lit Christmas displays of toys and games attracting children and parents to a holiday atmosphere unrelated to the small country’s main religion of Balinese Hinduism.
It’s the spirit of the season - despite, and along with, the commercialism.
My junior high-school choir sang our hearts out during the build-up to this annual milestone - glorious traditional Christmas carols ringing through packed churches across Toronto.
Never mind that we were from several different heritages.... we were bound together in the joy and solemnity of the music.
And pride. Too young still to fully understand it as the foundation of our gratitude for being Canadian.
We lived in a country that was practicing and still learning to do better at religious tolerance.
Now, we and our own children are part of a great, necessary awakening to the dire need for anti-racism, and the uplifting of racialized communities to have full equality/rights/freedoms across North America.
It’s as necessary as leaning into this Christmas Day to uplift our spirits.
I’ll be listening to carols - my favourites from Luciano Pavarotti’s first Christmas album, Barbra Streisand’s carol collections, and Elvis. I think his voice and faith were at his most heartfelt in those songs.
Meanwhile, relationship issues are still clouding some people’s lives.
Readers’ Commentary Regarding the married man who still misses his married lover, but returned to his wife due to COVID-19 and says he feels “stuck” with her (December 3):
“I was the wife another man felt “stuck with.” And it took me more years to realize that than I would like to admit.
“I (foolishly) gave him the benefit of the doubt for too many things, while he selfishly took advantage of me, his wife, as long as he could.
“That included me giving up things that were important to me, for his benefit. Yet he was oblivious to my needs.
“In his selfishness, he engaged in multiple affairs. I naively forgave the first and believed him when he said that it wouldn`t happen again.
“A HUGE mistake, as I’d discover many years later when his guilty conscience kicked in.
“I agree with what you already told this man - that he should go for his own counselling, alone, to figure himself out.
“He should not drag his wife into the mess of his life. She doesn`t deserve it.
“But I'm more concerned with her and her future. I hope she sees this letter, that it gives her the strength to move forward in her own life now, rather than 20 or 30 years from now.
“I hope she doesn’t end up like me: Alone, unfulfilled, and regretting the choices made for someone who didn’t deserve it!”
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who’s deeply upset after discovering a sexual relationship his wife had 20 years ago before they’d even met (December 5):
Reader – “I’m a male. I believe the husband’s a hypocrite.
“To suddenly be fretting about a past that he undoubtedly knew something of or chose to not see, means something in HIS character has changed.
“I suspect he’s looking for justification to abandon his wife. He called out her upbringing while pretending to be from a saintly family with proper morals. He’s divorced yet his behaviour isn’t called into question.”
Reader #2 – “He demands something he wasn’t able to live. Being married doesn’t mean that you know everything about the other person.
“He seems very controlling. He should consider himself lucky that she’s with him. He needs to work on his issues, not hers.”
Reader #3 – “The only important question: Have they both been faithful to each other throughout their relationship?”
Tip of the day:
This Christmas is a national celebration, not only of our secular traditions related to it. Along with our diverse faiths, it’s about who we are as a people and will be again - resilient, hopeful, staying the course to outlive the pandemic.