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'Merry Christmas,' I shouted

"Merry Christmas!" I shouted to a woman on the street.

But she didn't hear me.

Her misty eyes stared halfway round the globe

Where her son was lost in Afghanistan

And never found his way home.

"Merry Christmas!" I cried to an old gent in the alley.

But he didn't hear me.

He was dragging a cardboard box to another address

Moving his house to a friendlier neighborhood

Wondering where he belonged.

"Merry Christmas!" I heralded to the working man.

But he didn't hear me.

His hope was still at the locked gate of a factory

Where his job once was

What would he tell his family?

"Merry Christmas!" I called to the mother of three.

But she didn't hear me.

She had just won a long, hard fight

To become an ex-wife

And her victory smelled of ruin and ashes.

"Merry Christmas!" I spoke to the elder in a rocking chair.

But he didn't hear me.

His mind was back in 1950

Where he was young and handsome and strong

He had never gotten acquainted with the stranger they called 2009.

"Merry Christmas," I whispered to the new widow.

But she didn't hear me.

Words of cheer were overpowered by grief

And loneliness smothered her smile

Maybe next month she will lift her head.

"Merry Christmas," I mumbled under my breath.

But I didn't believe it.

Hardship, misfortune and bitterness had surrounded me

And my spirit had given up

And surrendered without a fight.

"Merry Christmas, mister!" exulted a little child.

Three times he caroled it before I heard.

"Cheer up and get singing," he coaxed.

"Nobody's going to feel joy around here

Until you and I and some angels join in a chorus."

"Merry Christmas!" sang the child and I to the world.

And this time the world heard us.

Because the child was the son of God

And we sang of peace, healing, comfort and hope

Won't you please join in the chorus?

(This column is a repeat of my 2008 greeting. As long as Americans are fighting wars in foreign lands it will be my annual message. Peace on Earth and peace to you.)