I’ve promised my husband mince pies this Christmas.

It’s not my first concession to his English proclivities — savory pies have become a weeknight staple in our home, and curry is on the menu at least twice a month — but it does represent our first attempt to build a lasting holiday tradition of our own.

We’re three years and some months into our marriage, and the melding of our family Christmas traditions is just beginning. We are from different countries with different religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. We have different political views and ideologies, but, with a lot of love and mutual respect, it works.

I was thinking of how disproportionately significant such differences have become in light of the country’s political divide. Bitterly debated before, during and after the casting of votes, the presidential race has become – over the years, despite which party is in power – a time of discord.

A month has passed since the election, and I still see angry exchanges when I log onto Facebook. The civility we Wisconsinites embrace isn’t the nationwide norm, and I’m sometimes shocked by how disrespectful we are to one another.

Still, Christmas is coming. These are good matters to ponder during Advent, a period of reflection and spiritual preparation. When we are saying and thinking unkind words, we must consider: Would we speak so harshly with our children or grandchildren in the room? With God in the room?

Because he is there, and when we are distracted by earthly concerns and forget him, we are reminded again every Christmas: Jesus was born, and God is with us.

I’ve watched “A Christmas Carol” this Advent – the George C. Scott version, truest to Dickens’ text – and I’m always struck by the power of this brief piece of literature. Scrooge’s miserly heart is perhaps best understood in our times as an amplification of our hardness toward one another — rather than denying money to our fellow man, we deny love.

In Dickensian fashion, perhaps the cure for the self-involvement and consumerism of our culture is a reflection on Christmases past, present and future. Now and throughout our lives, may our hearts be warmed by the joy and love we’ve been blessed to feel, and may we never forget to share that joy with others.
From our family to yours, a very merry Christmas!

Anita Draper