Barreling relentlessly onward like some refrigerator-sized linebacker, whether we’re ready for it or not, determined to sack us many yards behind the line of scrimmage, comes Christmas.
Even in years like this one when the news has been so grim and dispiriting, it comes for us. The calendar continues its merciless rolling, day in and day out, with no regard for our preparedness, physically or emotionally.
It does not care that our cheeriness has been arrested by somber accounts of heartbroken funeral scenes. It is not slowed by the fact that we may have turned our attention away from shopping and focused it instead on empty stockings and gifts that will never be opened by those for whom they were intended.
If you’re like me, you spent a couple of days in shock at the news. Thoughts of Christmas melted away like snow at the touch of a red-hot gun barrel. Then gradually, a little bit at a time, holiday preparation returned to your thoughts. But still, and even now, it feels as if some of the lights that glowed so brightly a few days earlier have lost some of their wattage.
I took my banjo to a school yesterday to sing a few seasonal songs with some elementary students. I worried about how I looked as I slung the long narrow backpack-style banjo case over my shoulder. I thought for a moment about just taking the banjo out of the case and carrying it in that way to avoid alarming anyone. Such is the world we now live in.
Minutes later as their smiling, bright-eyed faces sang out “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why,” I was pulled back into the spirit of the season for a while. And on the drive home I switched off the news broadcast. For a few minutes at least, ready to be overcome by another Christmas.