I recently engaged in conversation with one of our international members who observed, “You Americans ruin Christmas every four years”. Her reference, of course, was to the rancor of this particular election and how divisive it has been for everyone – even those out of the country.
I had to laugh but she had a point. It does seem that the conversation shifts greatly around the cycles of American politics.
The thought caused me to look through the numbers. We are not a for-profit venture and frankly we do not usually much care for the business of visitor statistics. But we have been around for better than two decades now and I was curious to see if our site traffic differentiated against the four year cycle of politics in the United States.
I was astonished to see a very clear pattern. Not only was Christmas a popular topic during election years but it seems wherever there is “stress” – a major earthquake, economic troubles, political upheaval – we see marked differences in visitors to our little slice of Christmas heaven here.
I pondered that a great deal. What is it about Christmas that brings people comfort?
I believe there are many answers to that.
Christmas is fun. Stress relief comes in many forms but none is more satisfying than having a little fun. From Santa Claus to Christmas carols the celebration of Christmas can be an outlet. For many people the fun of the holidays might come in different forms. But nearly all are easy to access and universally appealing. It is not hard to get people together to just blow off some steam.
Christmas is kindness. Regardless of whether you view Christmas as a sacred or secular event the theme of giving and good will prevails like no other time of the year. Of all our holidays Christmas is truly a season – a time for charity, a time to focus on the less fortunate – especially when one considers themselves one of those less fortunate. The glow and the glory of holiday cheer is infectious and people want to feel it.
Christmas is nostalgia. There is no other time of year that makes you feel more like a child than Christmas. People will pull out the Monopoly game and play it. They will make food they normally would not otherwise touch. Folks will look at pictures, remember when and celebrate “the Christmas they used to know” – because what their Christmas in the past was like was pure joy.
Even if it is only captured on one magical night each year many will reach back to feel it.
Christmas is peace. Again, you don’t have to celebrate just a sacred Christmas to embrace this central theme of Christmas. The first word the angel declared to the shepherds was “peace”. How welcoming is that? How refreshing is that idea during a political season like this one? Peace is like cool water to parched lips. Everyone wants it.
Christmas is love. The one universal emotion that we all lack and that none can fully explain is the most important of all. The being together, the brotherhood, the glad tidings of great joy, the wishes for good luck in the New Year – ALL is indeed merry and bright as we exchange our greetings at Christmas. We mean it, too. We want everyone to feel it.
This is what people seek in a year like this one. I can feel it. We’re technically not even into the season yet and every day the numbers reflect it.
We welcome you and we wish you a Merry Christmas. Come in from the storm and find fun, kindness, nostalgia, peace and love.
We understand what you’re feeling. We feel it too.