19 December 2012

Christmas musings

"Three things in human life are important:
the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind." 
—Henry James (1843-1916)

Mr. James's sentiments have never seemed more timely to me than during this season. If only there were more kindness in the world. For the truly charitable soul, kindness is second nature.  For the merely pragmatic, it simply takes less energy to be kind than being mean-spirited.  Surely Mr. Scrooge added age lines and shaved years off his life being so miserly and uncaring. And his step must have seemed far lighter the moment he performed his first act of kindness after waking from such terrible dreams.

Here, in my cottage, the holly and ivy is in place, seasonal music floats on the air, films reflecting miracles, changes of heart, and how wonderful our lives truly are play in the background, and the tree glimmers in the darkness by the hearth. But the wand that spreads true magic over this sparkling tableau, indeed the highlight of every Christmas, is being with my family.  It happens the moment I step into their warmth, see their faces, hear their laughter as they talk over one another, and smell the food so lovingly tendered to us by my mother's hands. Like a static diorama come to life, the garlands seem more lush and colorful, the music more heavenly, the films and their cautionary tales more moving, and the garnished tree a living symbol of every Christmas that came before

It makes sense to me that family should be at the heart of it. It began with a small family, after all, this thing we call Christmas and spend an inordinate amount of energy celebrating with our pocketbooks.  A little family with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Destined to be homeless on what was perhaps the most important night of their lives but for the kindness of a complete stranger.

Which brings me back to Mr. James. 

"Three things in human life are important:
the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind."

There are acts of kindness captured and imprinted on our collective hearts every day if we only pay them heedFor every man who chooses to photograph a person trapped on a subway rail rather than offering him his hand, there is a police officer who bends down to help an unshod homeless man.  For every child whose rage propels him to destroys 20 lives, there is a teacher willing to risk her own life to save as many children as she can. For every Staten Island looter ravaging vulnerable homes, there is a marathon man or woman who uses that energy to bring food, light and hope to those in need.

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world
in a conspiracy of love.” 
Hamilton Wright Mabie


  Things will be quiet here at the Cottage for the next week or so.... 

 Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.



  1. Beautiful words (and I love that snow:-))
    Hug your family close and have a Merry Christmas!

  2. Thank you, Bella. That snow is on my brother's property. I hope you had a beautiful Christmas with those you hold dear.