“I know that, for many, this season brings deep melancholy or worse. Being mindful of that fact, may I suggest that if you know someone who is alone at this time of year, make an effort to include them in your festivities. If that’s not possible, call them, visit, bring or send a little gift. It makes a difference.”—Helen Noakes
By Helen Noakes
SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2018—December brings with it a sense of anticipation, of music, of celebration. I’ve always liked this month, with its scent of pine, its lights, its festive colors.
It is, perhaps, the only month when so many faiths celebrate the coming of the light. Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Yule, all in their own traditions remind their congregations of the need for peace, for love, for sharing one’s bounty.
As I bring pine boughs into my home, as I string lights, listen to holiday music, bake kourabiedes (Greek butter cookies) for my friends, I know these acts to be expressions of hope that, somehow, we all might find a moment to set aside our acrimony and see our neighbors as people like us, in need of love.
It isn’t always easy, I know. How well I know. But I’m reminded of the Christmas truce of 1914, when warring armies stopped shooting at each other for just a little while. Men who lived through this magical moment said the silence was a balm. If you’re in New York through December 30, you might want to see a play called “All Is Calm,” which is about this remarkable, temporary acknowledgement of our common humanity.
In San Francisco, we are inclusive in our celebrations of the season. Union Square, at the center of town, prominently displays a Menorah next to a Christmas tree. The two, gloriously lit, complement each other beautifully.
Surrounding the square, shops glitter with wreaths, enormous Christmas trees, and windows with fabulous winter scenes. As if these visions of calorie-free sugar plums are not enough, there’s music. Cheerful tunes waft from the outdoor skating rink on Union Square; and the tinkle of Salvation Army bells competes with those of the Powell Street cable car. In Macy’s windows, the SPCA shows off charming felines and canines who nap or frolic in “Santa’s Workshop” to the delight of would be adoptees, while the squeaky Chipmunks’ exhort Christmas not to be late.
I know that, for many, this season brings deep melancholy or worse. Being mindful of that fact, may I suggest that if you know someone who is alone at this time of year, make an effort to include them in your festivities. If that’s not possible, call them, visit, bring or send a little gift. It makes a difference.
Having had the good fortune to be exposed to many cultures growing up, I learned some songs of the season from more than a few. As my gift to you, I offer:
A Greek song for St. Basil, who comes with book and pen to “teach us letters and the matters of God”: Aghios Vasilis Erxete/Greek Carols, by Marios Christou
From France, a carol about the infant Christ, “God of Love”: A Beautiful French Christmas Carol
From Russia, a hymn, “Be Joyous All Humankind”: Raduitesya vsi Lyude, by the Russian kolyadka Novokuznetsk choir
A Variety of Christmas Carols from Germany: German Christmas carols, by the Windsbacher Knabenchor, Live concert HD
From England, “O Holy Night”: O Holy Night, Carols from King
And Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah: Hallelujah Chorus, by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
And a delightful collection of songs for Hanukkah: Music of Hanukkah
My heartfelt wishes for a peaceful and joyous Holiday Season to you and yours!