I've just come from reading my friend Melissa's  letter to Santa, and a most appropriate (if unconventional) letter it is.  She's asking for some highly valuable gifts this year, gifts like Peace...Tolerance...Respect...some very big ticket items from the emotional virtues department.  This paragraph really hit home for me:

Speaking of anger…we all seem to be kind of bitchy and angry far too much of the time. This level of stress has become pervasive, Santa, and it’s not good. In times of economic disaster, we need to be calm, we need to be supportive, and we need to have hope. So, add HOPE to my list, please, because it never goes out of style.

Ah, I thought. So it isn't just me (and the people around me) who seem so cranky and out of sorts these days.  Seems everyone I talk to has a tale of woe to tell.  Of course Detroit is obviously not the happiest place on earth these days.  Our very economic existence is hanging by a thread, one being stretched quite thin by a group of lawmakers in Washington.  There isn't anyone I know in this city -this state -this country - who wouldn't be hurt in some way by the demise of the automotive industry.

No one. 

After all, when an automotive worker loses her job, she won't be getting her hair done, or going out to eat, or to the movies, or concerts, or perhaps even taking her kids to the doctor.  She certainly won't be buying big ticket items like appliances or furniture, won't be taking any trips or visiting any museums.  She won't be able to donate to her favorite charities.  Every one of those businesses will suffer, and then they too will have to close, creating even more unemployed people who won't be doing any of those things.

It's called the trickle down effect, but in this case, it's more like a tsunami.

Melissa's right though, when she says that "HOPE never goes out of style."   One of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems describes the essence of this feeling that springs eternal~

Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune--without the words, And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.

"Yet, never, in extremity...It asked a crumb of me."  It's rare to get something for nothing these days, isn't it?  But Hope is free, and if you can embrace the idea of it, the grace-fullness of it, there's nothing you need give in return. 

Simply have faith in the power of possibility.

Last week I wrote about Belief.   I'm still working on that one, still spinning those strands of belief into the image of a beautiful reality. 

Now I'm adding Hope, for the possibility of a brighter future, for the light at the end of a long dark tunnel.  Hope for all the struggling families and businesses, hope for those whose hearts are heavy and fearful.  Hope for people who seem to have it all, but whose lives are really  meaningless.  Hope to stave off the waves of grief and sadness that sometimes threaten to wash us away.

Hope for a happy Christmas for all.

How about you?  What are your fondest hopes this holiday?