Last night was my daughter's Christmas concert. A few observations since then have stuck with me.
Middle school can be a tough age when kids with any reason at all to feel awkward are made to feel more so, and it was a highlight of the evening to see an autistic student in the girls choir clearly welcomed into the group. It was a credit to the students and to the choir director to see her up there performing.
A neighbor of mine recently lost his wife to cancer. He was there, alone, watching his daughter sing. When I got home from the concert, I learned that another friend just lost his dad to cancer. That insidious disease is no respecter of persons or season. I am grateful to have seen Jen and Matt make it through treatment and begin racing again. My heart breaks for the families of those whose treatment wasn't successful.
While learning the songs for the concert, my daughter said they were learning a Christmas song in Hebrew. I laughed and told her there was no such thing as a Hebrew Christmas song, which prompted a discussion about various belief systems and cultural traditions. Further dialogue revealed that it was a song for the "festival of lights"--a Chanukah song. And while the selection of this number may very well have been prompted by the almost entirely one-sided feeling of kinship the local majority has towards Judaism, multiculturalism on any level is a good thing.
Perhaps this is a by product of growing multiculturalism, but as I have read various reactions today to the death (also to cancer) of Christopher Hitchens, I've been pleased by how positive the comments have been. I'm a Hitchens admirer, but I suspect the list of people who agree with everything he has said or written is quite short. Perhaps his polarizing dialogue was a tool to get people to think. Perhaps he was that adamant about his viewpoints. Regardless, he was a great thinker, a great writer, and yes, a great human being. Humankind would have been better off had Hitch been afforded more time to contribute to our intellectual traditions.
I'll wrap up this post with what is my favorite Christmas song at the moment. Regardless of the significance you ascribe to this season, I suspect you'll agree with the message.