The other night I came to the end of an exit ramp in Nashville. Twenty yards ahead on my left was a man in need of help. What specifically?, I have no idea – I couldn’t read his cardboard sign. It was a profound moment for me as John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” was playing on the radio.
“Happy Xmas,” which originally appeared on Lennon’s 1975 compilation album Shaved Fish, is essential to me during the Christmas season because it always redirects my heart and soul to consider what really matters during this most sensitive time of year: people, love, peace and safety. Regardless of your political or religious stance(s), the holiday time of year is simultaneously a wonderful and terribly troubling time. Wars and domestic heartaches do not pause nor stop. Homeless men, women and children continue to stand on street corners and sleep under bridges. Jobs are lost, loved ones die and family members continue not to speak.
But there is a hope that it can be better. A hope and a longing that is exemplified and expressed by John and Yoko through the words of this beautiful song. We cannot control this world or the community around us, but we can control ourselves. We can give, share, encourage and love.
For me personally, my hope is in the man who’s birthday originally caused what has devolved into the biggest capitalistic, commercial, Disney World holiday of them all. Your hope may be found there, or somewhere else. Regardless, I promise you there is hope. It is doubtful we all will get what we need, but we can sure as hell try. We all have a second chance to make a difference in the world of those around us. John and Yoko gave us a masterpiece with a poignant reminder that, in our hearts at least, war is over, if you want it.
Happy Christmas. Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.