Skip to main Content
Opinions

Take heart, Alaskans, for the spirit of the season prevails

  • Author: Shannyn Moore
    | Opinion
  • Updated: December 23, 2017
  • Published December 23, 2017

There is a magic about Christmas. We get to peel off our layers of broken promises and broken hearts to watch it through the eyes of the children close to us. There was a time I had to explain to my daughter that Santa wasn't Jesus's dad and this wasn't a big birthday party. The Santa at Nordstrom also had to explain to her that he did not know me well enough to get her a baby brother or sister for Christmas.

Christmas is about seeing things with new eyes and finding joy and understanding.

Oh, just so you know, I got you a gift. The gift is no, mostly no politics in this column. Why? Because I love you and want you to have a stress-free holiday. You're welcome.

I tried to distract myself while the Senate voted on the tax scam bill. I turned on Christmas carols.

A song came on the radio I've known all my life and I felt like I was hearing it for for the first time. I cried knowing millions of Americans had just lost their health care, and all seemed darker than the moonless sky.

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day …"

They were playing Irving Berlin's version. I sat and listened. I've heard this song my whole life. I had listened to "Amazing Grace" my whole life too, but I never really heard it until I learned the author, John Newton, was a slave trader turned abolitionist. Amazing grace saved a wretch like him and ended slavery in Great Britain. I can't hear that song without the knowing.

(Pixabay)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem turned Christmas carol, "I heard the bells on Christmas Day" a year into the Civil War. His beloved wife had burned in a fire two years before. He was burned badly trying to save his love. Later his son, without Longfellow's knowing, enlisted in the Union army. Young Longfellow was badly injured on a Virginia  battlefield. Longfellow was devastated on multiple fronts the morning he penned the Christmas bells poem. After reading the history, I called my pop and interrupted his sermon preparations for this week. (Spoiler alert for the fine folks at the First Organic Free-range Jesus Loving church of Homer.) I was unable to read him the verses without wet cheeks. Several of Longfellow's verses didn't make the carol because of Civil War references.

They should be brought back.

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on Earth, goodwill to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on Earth, goodwill to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on Earth, goodwill to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on Earth, goodwill to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on Earth, goodwill to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on Earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on Earth, goodwill to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on Earth, goodwill to men."

No matter how dark it feels, you are not alone. God does not sleep. The wrong will fail. The right will prevail. Take that to heart.

If this is your first holiday without someone you love or the it's been decades, I send you comfort. If it is your first being sober, or still you struggle — you can prevail. If not one bone in your body feels the "Christmas spirit" — you aren't broken — you're human and not alone. Longfellow ached with pain and loss yet he clung to the promise of peace on Earth, goodwill to men. Make it yours. I am. I have to. Merry Christmas, goodwill and love to you, my Alaska.

Shannyn Moore is a radio broadcaster.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser.

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.

Comments