The Christmas of 2012 has been one to stand out from past years and will continue to do so for awhile. 2012 was the year that the Mayan Calendar predicted the end of the world, forecasted for December 21st. As the holidays got closer, we were bombarded with end of the world jokes, TV specials on the possible ways the world would end, and countless articles about how the Mayan apocalypse was a misinterpretation of their calendar. While there were some who took it seriously, most of us continued with our Christmas music and doing last minute shopping, whose only urgency was to get the last item before the stores ran out.
Then on December 12th, the shootings occurred in Newton, Connecticut, and all of the sudden we were violently jolted out of our holiday preparations and Apocalypse nay-sayings. Twenty-six people died in that unforeseen, horrific event, with most of the dead being children. You have no doubt read the many articles and news reports about why the shooter, Adam Lanza, went on his murderous rampage.
As we tried to reconcile ourselves with this violation of our innocence of the holiday season, December 21st eventually came around. While it appeared that the joking was considerably less audible, people still tried to retain some aspect of humor; apocalypse parties and social media posters and jokes ‘celebrating’ that the Mayan calendar came and uneventfully went.
Then we were again violated when on December 24th, four fire fighters were shot when they responded to an emergency call in Webster, New York. Besides the tragic loss of two of the firefighters being killed, what made it seem even more senseless was that the whole scene had been an apparent trap set by the gunman, William Spengler. His only documented reason was that he wanted to kill people.
The world didn’t come to an end, but perhaps our frivolousness has. Instead of talking about getting to the store before it closed on Christmas Eve, we were asking why was all this happening at a time of the year that was supposed to be joyful. Why was it that the only time of the year that celebrated peace on earth, instead turned into nightmare for so many people who did nothing wrong?
I don’t have those answers. Some have claimed that they do, whether it was mental instability or God’s displeasure, but I don’t think anyone has any. The end of 2012 has caused me to reflect seriously on our true priorities. Christmas is often accused of being plagued by consumerism, and I am not saying that is true or not. However, this month has really brought home what was truly most important to many of us; because we weren’t thinking about presents or store deals, but being close to family and friends.