Good King Wenceslas Looked Out

A belated Merry Christmas to anyone reading this.

I have not written a “chapter” from my notes this week. I am surrounded by the wrapping paper of a few small gifts, the contents of my desk drawers, and an insular silence. I have had two days to properly reflect on the past six months, and I have realized–as if somehow I forgot–that if I do not make time for this on a regular basis, I will not be happy with the result.

Christmas draws attention to the human condition. Dickens painted the picture well enough, and to this day I think of the VHS tape of The Muppet Christmas Carol that I watched every single year, with the miniature kermit puppet portraying Tiny Tim. Everyone makes an effort to remember those things that they should remember at all other times of the year as well. As I stare at the passersby, I wonder why it can’t stay this way: the awareness of our fellow man (or woman), the recognition that we are alive, well, and safe. Would we get used to it? Are people incapable of proper kindness if they can’t compare it to their natural (and less kind) state of being?

I have just read two stories of Auschwitz survivors. I feel a certain reverence, as someone who has not properly suffered, and knows nothing of this great and terrible truth about human existence. I feel a certain stillness, knowing that I am likely to remain a man who has not been beaten, whipped or starved. It seems as if we have to listen to these people. What they say matters, because what they say can only be generated by experience.

This feeling of peace–of having escaped something awful because of when and where I was born, and of having the freedom to reflect upon history as if it is no longer being written–washes over me no more than once per year. I realize that I am so afraid of being unoriginal and trite that I often fail to act. And I realize that kindness matters when others need it, not merely when I enjoy providing it.


One Response to “Good King Wenceslas Looked Out”

  1. “… on the feast of Stephen”? Was that part intentional, too? =P

    At least the holidays still carry enough residual significance in the secular consciousness to make similar sentiments not exclusive to the religious. I miss that about Canada, being away for Christmas.

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