As I walked home in the darkening afternoon, along the stone-face grumps and grinches clutching their collars against the mean and petty snow sent sideways by a bickering wind, I saw a girl of 8 and her baby sister gleefully skipping along trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues, and laughing like little glowing lamps.
I think the reason Christmas has always mattered to so many who have no particular connection to the mishmash of ancient mythologies that led to it is specifically because December is so deep and dark, as Paul Simon put it. It can be an infusion of cheer and bright lights when they are needed most.
And that bit about good will to all peoples is pretty great too. And that will have extra poignancy as we mark the 100th anniversary of the impromptu “Christmas truce” along the trenches in 1914.