As I write this letter, I know many of the people who would normally read it will not—and with good reason. They’re off cavorting in the snow, spending time with their families, remembering old traditions and singing songs that only come up this time of the year. And I doubt most of them want to step away from eggnog and the fire long enough to read a letter like this one!
But every year, there’s a second group of people. Those who either go through the motions of the holiday season without really feeling them, or those who have no reason to even keep the pretense. And this year especially, with so many people stuck at home or away from their normal holiday patterns, it can be especially hard to feel any kind of magic this year.
It’s those people, I think, who are probably reading a letter like this one. And while circumstances may prevent me from making space for each and everyone of them by the fire, insisting you try a cookie or two, and finding something to wrap and put your name on, I can offer this instead:
Whatever holiday you celebrate, if you find yourself celebrating this time of year, you also find yourself in the dead of winter. The days are at their shortest, the weather bleak, and all the trees and vegetation is as close to dying as it ever finds itself. We also find ourselves stripped away from our normal comforts, the patterns and rhythms of work and rest that make up our ordinary lives, disrupted by maybe a little too much introspection.
It’s the reason why, in Narnia, the worst possible world imaginable is one covered in perpetual ice without the promise of the coming spring, when the world will thaw and grow again—a world where it’s always winter, and never Christmas.
But I think there’s also a reason why we celebrate the Holidays at this time of year. It’s not just that we love sledding, or that hot cocoa is scientifically proven to taste better when it’s cold outside. It’s that the holidays are about hope, the hope of the coming spring, the belief that, in the midst of deepest, darkest parts of the year, the world will once again be warm and bright.
So if you find yourself reading this letter, feeling a little less festive than you might wish, all I can tell you is that you have adequately apprehended the nature of the world. It is, in a very real sense, not the most wonderful time of the year. But deep beneath the frozen earth, past the darkness, isolation, and drudge, there is a glimmer. A tiny flame, waiting seed, the beginnings of a hope that will soon come roaring into life—the coming spring, a new life. Something worth hoping for.
May the road rise up to meet you!