December 13, 2022

Article at

A time to be merry

Over the past three years I grew tired of writing the phrase “due to Covid restrictions” in almost every story. Now that we are living under fewer restrictions, I try not to constantly repeat “for the first time in two years…”

But all the revivals we are enjoying are important, and they are cause for celebration.

December 2020 was our first Christmas season under pandemic restrictions. I remember concluding my December 15, 2020 column with this:

[…] maybe, since we can’t get together over Christmas, we will learn to appreciate each other more. I’d rather not have to learn the lesson this way, but perhaps when we can finally be together again, we will understand the importance of peace, fellowship, and goodwill.

On Christmas Eve 1818, flooding damaged the organ of the little church in Oberndorf, a village in what is now Austria. Facing a Christmas with no music the local priest, Father Joseph Mohr, brought a poem to Franz Gruber and asked him to set it to a simple tune with guitar accompaniment so it could be sung in church on Christmas Day.

The silencing of the village organ inspired the beloved carol Silent Night. How ironic that this silence would live evermore as music.

Maybe isolation is our silence; maybe togetherness will be our music.

Music and togetherness are themes that run through today’s paper. We have plenty of pictures of events where people have come together over music (and food… there’s always food!). If you’ve been able to attend public events recently, you’ve probably noticed the same thing I have: that people are enjoying just being together every bit as much as they are happy to dance to live music or share a delicious supper.

It would be wonderful if this feeling, like “Silent Night,” could endure for 200 years and beyond. I’m hopeful, but not optimistic—we seem intent on dividing ourselves, and not just on matters of politics. We are less and less capable of disagreeing on anything, from politics to faith to hockey team allegiances, without resorting to disrespect and even hate. Compromise is regarded as surrender.

But if you look at the pictures in today’s paper, you will see people with different political priorities; different faith traditions (even at a Christmas event); you will see people with different ideas and attitudes, different tastes, different values, and even (God bless them) some Leafs fans.

They’re singing together, dancing together, playing together, and breaking bread together.

What they have in common is that they’ve missed each other, and they are overjoyed to be together again.

We need each other. With pandemic restrictions behind us, it would be a shame to now isolate ourselves in the quarantine of our own narrow-mindedness. It’s the time of year, and a time in history, to celebrate togetherness; to strive for peace on earth and goodwill to all people.