A Holiday Wish
Every year at this time, I hear songs and recite words about peace on earth and goodwill to all. But this year, with the horrors of Paris, the intractable violence in the Levant and The Middle East and the heated rhetoric about immigration in Europe, Australia and the USA, peace and goodwill feel like they’re in especially short supply.
And yet, at this holiday time, we gather our loved ones close and we hope. I say holiday, instead of Christmas, not because of any interest in the feigned religious controversies that envelope one or two countries about how to properly address this festive season, but because the reality in my part of the world, is that the calendar year ends and then begins in a series of holy days, a procession of claims to truth, Mid-Autumn Festival gives way to Hari Raya Haji, then Halloween, is followed by Diwali, lights go up at the start of Advent, then Christmas is followed by New Year in Japan, then Chinese New Year, before our thoughts turn to facing the end of Winter and the coming of Spring.
Something deep within us still wants to mark some days as holy, as special, as worth commentating again and again. This desire seems to transcend our beliefs and cultural background. We prepare special meals, re-enact familiar traditions and gather close to us the people we love.
For me, December is always a quiet time. I like to spend the four weeks of Advent reflecting on the year and trying to understand where life is heading. During my 20s, I had some very unhappy Christmases, when people I loved hurt me deeply, and that has inspired an annual effort to try and make every Christmas as festive and peaceful as possible, not just for me, but for my family as well.
Now, on 25th, the presents have been opened, the turkey has been eaten and the 12 days have begun. We’ll be spending the New Year ski-ing, as we have done in recent years. Then it’s back to Tokyo, for a few days of enjoying the lights, the tree and decorations, before everything is packed up for Epiphany (January 6).
New Year’s is a big holiday in Japan. For most people it’s a quiet, family occasion, interspersed with some traditional celebrations. So, all our favourite stores and restaurants will be closed for the first days of the new year, and the winter lights and festive spirit, will continue well into January.
So, however you celebrate this time of year, I hope your days are full of joy and peace, that you can spend time with people you love, look back on the year that has passed, and take celebrate the lessons learned and success you’ve shared. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog throughout 2015, for all the messages, emails, cards, gifts and little tokens of encouragement along the way. And, whether you are looking to the New Year with a slew of new hopes and plans, or just the resolve to stay committed to the dreams you already have, I hope you can enjoy navigating the road you’ve chosen and that you find 2016 to be a year full of peace and goodwill.