by Margaret Lambert, LCSW
The month of December is upon us again. A time when we deck the halls with boughs of holly, light the Kwanzaa and Hanukkah candles and gather around tables to share the foods and stories of our chosen tradition. This is a time anticipated by many yet for some it is filled with dread.
Many homes will be filled with reflections of a good harvest while others will be left broken and wanting. Families will welcome home members pulled away by jobs or wars; tears of joyful reunions and laughter will abound. Others will find themselves in new spaces not yet wearing the familiar furnishings or decorations that bring comfort and a sense of safety to a new home. And still others will enter this season with anger and fear instead of holiday bliss because of broken relationships or family issues that surfaced during the passing year.
At this time of year for our own personal reasons, we long to gather with familiar faces to share what we do have in common. We long to be part of something that includes people who accept us and want to spend time with us. People who open their arms and houses and say, “What ever happened… let’s lay it aside for this one day.”
This reminds me of a story that many of you will be familiar with –the Christmas Truce of 1914. A World War I story of soldiers from opposing sides reaching out across the great “no mans land” between the trenches of the Germans and the Brits during the battle of Flanders Field. As the story is told, on Christmas Eve of 1914, the German soldiers began to place small evergreen trees along the top of their trenches. They decorated the boughs with lit candles and then began to sing. The tunes were familiar to the men on both sides despite the fact that the languages each spoke were different; Christmas tunes that had filled the homes and churches of men from different countries now ringing out across 60 feet of muck and destruction under a star lit sky.