Tuesday, July 23, 2024

From the Publisher | Be happy, safe, healthy this holiday season

Since the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve been listening to Christmas music on the radio. I enjoy hearing the old-fashion Christmas carols that I began hearing and learning as a young boy.

Tommy Arviso, Jr., portrait

Tom Arviso, Jr., CEO and Publisher, Navajo Times Publishing Co., Inc.

Being a baby-boomer, I grew up listening to the likes of Perry Como, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Jose Feliciano, Ray Charles, Andy Williams, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Let us not forget Elvis Presley, The Jackson 5, Cheech & Chong and of course, Alvin and the Chipmunks.

This is classic Christmas music from a long-ago era that featured songs written and recorded in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

I can recall our music teacher, Mr. Lee at Window Rock Elementary School. Our music class was held on the stage in the school auditorium/cafeteria and when it was our time to sing, we would stand up and follow his instructions.

He would sit at his piano and yell out, “What do you want to sing, now?” And we would respond with a Christmas song that we all knew and Mr. Lee would start banging the piano keys and we would sing at the top of our lungs.

Mr. Lee would sing right along with us and with a big smile on his face, he would shout, “Louder!” and we would follow his lead and start screaming, “Jingle bells, jingle bells…”

Those were good times – memorable, fun times.

I do not know whatever happened to Mr. Lee after we all left Window Rock Elementary after completing 4th grade and then transferring to Fort Defiance. He could also play other instruments like the harmonica, guitar and banjo and he was always smiling.

Mr. Lee always made our music class exciting and invigorating, especially at Christmas time. I remember him well.

That is what good Christmas music is all about. It brings back memories of past Christmas events, family gatherings, school performances and lots of snow and colorfully wrapped presents.

More importantly, it brings back happy and joyous feelings of being among all of the special people in your life like your parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews and best friends.

Today, as parents and grandparents, we proudly include our children and grandkids, too.

I remember Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at our house in Window Rock, and opening presents from under our decorated Christmas tree. Growing up, my parents didn’t have a lot of money but they always found a way to make Christmas special for us kids.

Those holiday years were well before there were home computers, electronics, video games and cell phones. Our Christmas gifts were simple things like books, toy soldiers and dolls, footballs and basketballs, socks and underwear.

My grandparents used to send us socks they bought from Navajo Shopping Center or Fed Mart with $2 or $3 stashed in them and it was like getting a $100. These were special gifts from a loving family.

This is what the Christmas music brings to my mind and heart now as I travel down the road in my truck singing along to “Blue Christmas” with Elvis. The music allows me to travel back in time and reflect in a good way about the loving, caring relationships with family and friends who are no longer here on Mother Earth.

My mom and dad are both gone now as are my grandparents, and lots of my aunties and uncles, cousins and friends. If there is a sad side to Christmas and other holidays, is that you are missing the love, laughter and company of family members and friends that have passed on.

I get sad and emotional when I think about them because I do miss the fun times we had when our families would get together at Christmas time and there would be lots of laughter, food and playing outside in the snow.

I can still hear my parents, aunts and uncles laughing away at the dinner table while us kids played with the new toys and board games that we got for Christmas.

Those are great, special memories. I also know that those past memories are being replaced by the new good times that I share today with my kids, grandkids, family members and close friends. Together we are creating our own special memories.

It is real easy to be sad and lonely during the Christmas holidays as many people do. I encourage you to flip that sadness and focus your energy on being as positive and happy as possible. Your loved ones would want you to remember them and the special times you shared in a happy, momentous way.

I know that thought is easier said than done but it is something I wish and pray for – for all of you who are missing loved ones this Christmas.

This is especially hard if it’s the first time in your lives that your particular family or friends are not here for the holidays.

Believe me that they are in a better place and are feeling happy and healthy. So, you should try and do the same when it comes to your emotions and reflections.

I have had some close friends pass on this past week and while I am saddened by their deaths, I feel especially bad for their spouses, kids and grandchildren, and their families. Losing a loved one at Christmas time is a tough situation to deal with. I send special prayers and blessings to all those who are experiencing this kind of tragic loss.

If at all possible, I encourage you to seek comfort, reason and strength through prayer and spirituality. As Diné, our prayers and songs over past generations have helped us to survive, endure and live. It has brought us healing and peace of mind and heart. It can do the same for you if you give it an honest chance.

So, as I listen to my holly, jolly Christmas music, I want all of you to be happy, safe and healthy this holiday season. Take time for yourself and think sincerely about all of the positive things that you have going for you in your life today. Put the negative people, emotions and events on the backburner and allow the good blessings that you have take priority in your life.

As I have done in past years, I also want all of us to remember all of our loved ones and fellow people who are going through a rough time during this Christmas holiday. Let us remember to send blessings and prayers to our sick and needy, our lonely and homeless, our military, and our brothers, sisters and children who are incarcerated.

Let us remember and bless all those folks who are not as fortunate as we are during this Christmas, and each and every day. May the Almighty Creator bless them with safety, warmth and protection, and peace of mind and soul.

Merry Blessed Christmas everyone! Sing along loudly with your favorite Christmas song or carol, and perhaps you will inspire someone else to do the same.

Have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones and families, be safe, and create some new, fun holiday memories to be cherished by our current and future generations!


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