Schermerhorn Symphony Center

My two year-old cousin was the life of the party on Friday. Not even able to articulate why he was overcome with the anticipation of Christmas Day, he flashed a thousand-watt smile and darted around our apartment at the very mention of it. I cannot imagine a holiday season without seeing the unbridled joy on a toddler's face.

Like a friend from out in the cold, we welcome the holidays into our hearts sooner or later, even if we are not quick to answer the door. At times, it takes a bit of effort to come up with reasons to celebrate. But that is where the holidays really shine. The season returns us to a different time that is as much nostalgia as it is a necessary part of of marking the time. Memories fade and are often repainted with a gentler brush during the holidays, but we still yearn for it: that feeling of wonderment makes the world go 'round in late December.

This year has been a a taxing one, and one I do not believe lived up to what had been hoped for. But in spite of that, I remain hopeful. I am hopeful for a year of success that is measured in more than just dollars and the material goods that surround us; Hopeful for a peace that means more than just the end of fighting; Hopeful for a love that is shown not only in the words we say to one another, but in the way we live our lives.

It is no secret that 2011 was not kind to many Americans. Next week will mark another calendar year for many where employment was hard to come by and hope was in short supply. Mothers and fathers across our nation are giving less this Christmas in material goods, but more of their heart and commitment. May the weight of the world be lifted from the shoulders of those who are struggling.

This Christmas, I give thanks for family and friends and how undeservedly blessed my wife and I are. From our home to yours, may you and yours have the happiest of holidays.