Note: This was first written and published on December 24, 2016

As I trundled around New York City in the final days before Christmas, there was a chill in the air that was not represented in the weather reports. The Christmas cheer and material excesses that usually abound in the Big Apple had a tinge of unfamiliar anxiety – especially as one headed towards the normally effervescent Fifth Avenue. This boulevard is one of the great American addresses – an assortment of bedecked high-end boutiques that gives way to the marvelous St. Patrick’s Cathedral and always crowded Rockefeller Center as you head south. But it is also home to Trump Tower, and, as crowds mingled with a mighty security presence, there was talk of the President-elect in his lofty aerie atop of a city that in large part is none too fond of him.

Such is the charged moment of this holiday season – Christmas 2016. Waves of division, anger, and suspicion course through our nation, and a restive world. As a journalist, I am ready for the year ahead, to report without fear or favor. But for a few days at least I hope to largely slide off the grid, into what is always for me a deeply spiritual time and an especially treasured period of family togetherness, I will seek, as I always do, moments for quiet reflection. That’s something that our nation needs more of, no matter our divergent political preferences and religious beliefs (or lack thereof), we can all afford to stop and think more.

With this in mind, I want to extend greetings and good wishes to all – especially you, my Facebook friends. You have inspired my aging mind to dream of adventures still ahead, and I hope we can explore those together in the coming year. Both of my grandmothers and my mother taught the belief that Christmas is about love and hope. The world, and our beloved country, sometimes can seem to be in short supply of both of those—love and hope. But one of the lessons of a long life is that, however it may seem at any given moment, love and hope glow eternal, a flame of the soul that often flickers but is never extinguished.

However, I also know that there are many who, in this holiday season, are experiencing little or no joy. They are in pain, are hungry, lonely, and suffering. Their troubles make notions of love and hope feel like distant and unattainable blessings bestowed on others. My heart and prayers are especially with those people suffering. I hope yours are as well. And may we vow to follow up on compassionate thoughts with compassionate actions.

These are the times that try men’s souls. Thomas Paine wrote that, and it’s a reminder that our history has seen other moments of crisis and uncertainty. I am optimistic that we will prevail as a nation, hopefully, a much more unified and fairer one. With that thought in mind, and in that spirit: Merry Christmas to all.