Thoughts on holiday existentialism

Photo courtesy of Jeff Wier,


by Gary Johnson

A little girl is singing for the faithful to come ye

Joyful and triumphant, a song she loves,

And also the partridge in a pear tree

And the golden rings and the turtle doves.

In the dark streets, red lights and green and blue

Where the faithful live, some joyful, some troubled,

Enduring the cold and also the flu,

Taking the garbage out and keeping the sidewalk shoveled.

Not much triumph going on here—and yet

There is much we do not understand.

And my hopes and fears are met

In this small singer holding onto my hand.

           Onward we go, faithfully, into the dark

           And are there angels hovering overhead? Hark.

(Used entirely without permission, but isn’t this an awesome poem?)

Photo courtesy of Jeff Wier,

I started today out with a longish drive (2.5 hours), Christmas music, and thoughts of what Christmas means to me – an agnostic, middle-aged woman of a certain amount of privilege. Privileged enough to say no gifts please, I have all I need and a lot more. Privileged to have all those I love in reasonably good health and state of mind. Blessed with kind and generous friends and neighbors. My son is home, I’ll see my parents and sister in January. When there is nothing left to want and celebrating Christ’s birthday isn’t really part of the picture, what’s the meaning of Christmas?

My brilliant son and I talked about it on the way home, and he nailed it. It’s about cookies (yes, in fact he did read the last blog post about food), music, and putting the Star Wars ornaments on the tree. Watching Charlie Brown and the Grinch, our Christmas Eve tradition. Brilliant son never mentioned presents, though when he got home tonight it didn’t take long to shake the wrapped boxes – he’s still a kid.

It’s all of this for me too, plus the hope for peace on earth and goodwill toward all throughout the year. The traditional carols and the pop songs, making and decorating the cookies with the brilliant son, turning the tree over to his collection of Star Wars ornaments. Seeing my man-child diagnose the contents of his gifts. I have let go of the busy-ness that used to be our Christmas, and have more time to delight in the good stuff.

I wish you the holiday of your dreams. Thank you all for your generous reading. If you would like to receive blog posts by email, please scroll to the bottom of any page on the web site,, and sign up.