Christmas Eve has always held a certain and unshakable mystique for me.
Ever since I was a little kid – I guess for all the predictable reasons: Presents, family, frost on the windows, presents, all those maudlin Christmas carols on the radio... and presents.
Relocating to the South – as I did almost three decades ago – changed things dramatically, of course, particularly concerning that "frost on the windows" thing.
This isn't the first year I haven't had my mind as comfortably wrapped around the holiday as I would like, but it's not just the weather, which, well... is a little too balmy for my tastes.
It's more of a general feeling I get, that – despite the church bells ringing and decorations everywhere – that Peace on Earth/Joy to the World thing just isn't taking hold like in years past.
No doubt, the events in Newtown, Connecticut, have lent the holidays an unspeakable sorrow, and the subsequent political fallout and fury has made for more Grinches on my TV screen than I would ever care to grapple with this time of year.
It can be hard to stake out your own sense of peace in the world when everyone around you is at each other's throats.
Sometimes I feel like Charlie Brown in that Peanuts Christmas special on TV, waiting for Linus to show up and explain to me the true meaning of Christmas.
I want to believe that life is a Charlie Brown Christmas tree; that all it needs is a little love to stand tall and on its own, unafraid and unashamed.
I thank God I have my own kids now to force me to turn my cynical, contrarian heart over to the wonder and magic that fills their heads on this hallowed eve.
They are the security blanket under my faltering tree.
However you find your own mojo this time of year, I hope it holds you fast and safe.
Merry Christmas, dear viewers.
Peace on Earth. Goodwill toward mankind.