I’ve been trying to think of something to write about Christmas that hasn’t been written many times before. I come up with Santa Claus’ boot print, Christmas recitations at church,  uncomfortable family dinners, orange candies…. but I really don’t have any compelling stories to tell. What I love most is the wonderful music. As I write this I’m listening to wall-to-wall Bach on New York City’s WKCR. For some reason that’s not entirely clear, Christmas is a celebration of the human voice. Choirs and choruses reveal themselves.

I think I’ve understood for some years what Christmas is about. The intersection of the sacred and the secular, the revelation of— depending on the form your understanding of the world takes—the Divine, the Light, the Truth, the son of God, the essential nothingness at the heart of the universe…..  the conflation of love, the weak and the meek, the human, the Word, with whatever it is that’s at the heart of all that is and is not.

A little like this:

A confusion of black spruce
and smoking moonbeams.
Here’s the cottage lying low
and not a sign o flife.

Till the morning dew murmurs
and an old man opens
—with a shaky hand—his window
and lets out an owl.

– Tomas Transtromer (see the October 31, 2011 New Yorker in a review of Transtromer’s work  by Dan Chiasson)


Every once in a while someone will come along who says it all so that I almost understand it. I hope that happens for you, whoever you are, this Christmas.

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