Merry Christmas

To my friends,

Merry Christmas! What’s so merry about it, you ask? I know. All I have to do is read the morning paper for my daily dose of woe. Throw in all of the ersatz seasonal joy and . . . well, you get the picture. Not a very happy one at that. There are so many people for whom “the happiest time of the year” just isn’t.

I wonder if “happy” is really the right word to use. In thinking back over this last year, the word that comes to mind is “gratitude.” I am blessed by a family that I love. Imperfect? Yup! Sometimes painfully so. I’ve been married for 46 years, and, in the words of the late Jerry Garcia, what a long strange trip it’s been. We’re still together. My children have grown into good, decent citizens. I have a grandson, one of the lights of my life.

I am blessed with good friends, some of whom I have known for many years. I’ve been blessed with opportunities to give back through the students I teach. They give me hope. I’ll be 70 years old next year. I have my home. I have my health.

I live in a country which, for all of its problems and the pain of its history, gives me the opportunity to think and speak freely and to make something of myself without the interference of the state. In a world where people of all faiths are suffering persecution, the importance freedom of conscience cannot be overstated.

I am profoundly grateful.

So Merry Christmas to one and all. Stay strong! Look forward! All the best to us in 2020.

Mark Holland