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Editorial: A stocking full of hope for a world in turmoil
Our Christmas wish list for St. Nick is a long one, but we need what he totes in his bag
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“And so this is Christmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear ones

The old and the young”

We head now into a two-week holiday period to which many of us look forward year round, a chance to unwind a bit, revel in the company of family and friends and prepare for the dawning of a new year and all the potential it brings. For most of us, it is inexplicably both a crazily frenetic and spiritually relaxing time unlike any other fortnight.

On Friday, we will celebrate Christmas, with the “Christ” portion firmly attached. The worries of those afraid the religious celebration is somehow diminished by a heartfelt wish of “happy holidays” represent a concern without a cause. Christ can no more be removed from the recognition of his birth than can Christmas carols be silenced at shopping malls.

The season has special meaning to those of the Christian religion; the holiday is first and foremost religious in nature, and those with faith who truly believe will never let that meaning be lost, no matter how much commercial hustle and bustle surrounds the festivities.

It is impossible, however, to ignore the secular side of the Christmas season, perhaps best personified by that jolly ol’ elf himself, St. Nicholas.

Whether a visit from Santa Claus supplements the religious celebration or completely removed from any spiritual connotation, that bearded persona complete with merry dimples and a corpulent belly that shakes when he laughs “like a bowl full of jelly” is expected to deliver the goods around the world come Christmas Eve.

Youngsters of all ages have scribbled notes to Santa in recent weeks, some with pencil upon paper, others of a more modern bent with digital images on a an electronic monitor, missives of all sorts asking the master of the North Pole for gifts large and small.

While the nation as a whole perhaps lacks a central fireplace and an accommodating chimney, Santa’s magic is surely sufficient to overcome such limitations. With that in mind we’d like to ask that he fill his bag with a few things for our country as a whole.

“Dear Santa,” tradition demands such a request begin, “please bring our nation an ample supply of:

• Compassion: Somewhere along the way some of us seem to have forgotten the art of caring one for the other, a basic tenet of the spiritual side of the holiday season. The strength of our nation has always been that it is a quilt sewn together from many diverse patches. Help us to remember that.

 Respect: For veterans. For police. For teachers. For the average man on the street, the troubled juvenile, the homeless, the sick. We can differ in our beliefs on every topic and in our actions in every situation and still have respect for one another. We don’t have to revel in the T-shirt philosophy that “Haters gonna hate.”

 Patience: In a world that sometimes seems to resemble nothing more than an open can of chaos caught in the eye of a hurricane, we need the sort of patience that provides the time for understanding.

 Perspective: We too often take offense where none is intended, react with anger when humor is expected, take ourselves far too seriously in situations that demand otherwise. We are a nation obsessed with narcissistic selfies rather than contemplative self-examination.

 Leadership: Whether we are on the naughty list or the nice list, there’s no doubt we are desperately in need of leadership at all levels to help us establish a moral compass with which we can better find our way.

 Peace: We are forced to live too much in a world of fear and mayhem. Bring us peace, so that we may again believe in a future for all mankind. We need “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men” as a real objective and not just verbiage providing background noise during the season.

We know that’s a pretty big order Santa, but we’ve got a lot of stockings in this country that are filled with the coals of fear, mistrust, anger, failure and disillusionment. We’re hoping you can empty them out and fill them with something better.

And Santa, if you can’t handle it yourself, maybe you could join in with the voices who will be offering up a prayer to that baby born in the stable. It is, after all, his holiday.

“A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear ...”

To send a letter to the editor, use this form or send to letters@gainesvilletimes.com. The Times editorial board includes Publisher Charlotte Atkins, General Manager Norman Baggs and Editor Keith Albertson.

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