An Optimist's Christmas 2023

An Optimist's Christmas 2023

As dawn broke on this Christmas morning, I walked; the overnight storm's cloud cover had broken, and the rising sun painted a beautiful orange-pink shade over everything. The air was fresh with the smell of the overnight rain - the ground was wet underfoot. A magpie's song brought me joy - a uniquely Australian herald of the day.

Last night, we celebrated a Baltic Christmas Eve with my cousins with joy and positive conversation with a feast of dishes - my cooked contribution - Rosol and "Red Fish" - a very Australian adaption with Barramundi as the base. 

Almost all the time, I look at life and events with an optimist's eyes and look for joy. Christmas is no exception.

Helen Keller said, "Christmas Day is the festival of optimism."

Helen was right. Reflecting on the early Christians, it's evident they possessed a profound faith and an unwavering optimism that their teachings would find resonance far and wide. Christianity has profoundly shaped cultures and societies for two millennia, bringing about significant positive changes. This legacy of faith and optimism, deeply rooted in the early Christian message, inspires and influences countless lives across generations.

The British Labour Party's Keir Starmer’s 2023 Christmas address focused on this optimism and hope.  Sir Keir said: “Throughout the Christmas period, we see the bonds of kinship rekindled as families and friends share in the joy, the hope and the optimism that Christmas provides.  For Christians the world over, this is a time to rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ – God’s son."

Reflecting on the family Christmas meals we share, Amanda Noz told me, "The repeating traditions of Christmas make me optimistic. Making the same recipes as my Grandmothers and Great Aunties made creates a continuity that echoes through the decades. Eating Christmas lunch on the "good china", bringing out the special tablecloth and serviettes and decorations, listening to Christmas music and connecting with friends and family is all part of the magic of Christmas."

My friend and Chair of The Centre for Optimism, Robert Masters, said Christmas "is founded on heartfelt optimism because that gives hope."

So, to my friend Wendi Dawson, President, Melbourne Business Network: "Christmas is the most optimistic time of year."

The passion-provocateur Charles Kovess shared his thoughts with me: "Christmas reminds us of the power of love over fear. Christ's message is that perfect love casts out all fear. I say that the less fear in your mind, the greater your optimism will be. So, cast out that fear. Remind yourself that Christ has won, even though he was put to death on the cross. You can win, even though you think now you may be losing: that's something you can be optimistic about!"

Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee said, "Christmas is a time of togetherness and celebration, as well as an opportunity for renewed hope and optimism for the new year ahead."

The columnist Creede Hinshaw said, "I began thinking about children and waiting. I first concluded that children know nothing about how to wait. But after further reflection, I see another side to this. Children have to wait for almost everything. Accompanying that waiting, at least regarding their birthday parties and Christmas, is a sense of sheer excitement and eagerness. That unbridled optimism and expectation is often missing once we become adults. Children have much to teach us about eager expectation."

Christmas for Those Grieving or in Troubled Times

The psychologist Gerald Ogle put it well,  "What is normally a joyous time spent celebrating with friends and loved ones has in many instances been replaced with emotions such as fear, anxiety and loneliness. Many individuals may find their mental health under strain, having deteriorated as a result of all they have experienced this year. But despite these challenges, we can hope for better days, and, with mindful planning and preparation, approach this Christmas season filled with hope and optimism."

The Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Peter Dutton, reflected on the essence of resilience and hope in his 2023 Christmas Message. He stated, "In tough times, let us not lose sight of the optimism, aspiration, the courage, the confidence, the camaraderie and the sense of duty which makes us tick as individuals and makes our nation truly remarkable." 

A Christmas Carol

Writing about Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", the columnist Galen Holley said, "It's fitting that one of the central emotional figures in "A Christmas Carol" is a child, the loveable Tiny Tim. He represents a children's everyman, a pure soul who never complains about his predicament but continually inspires those around him with his generous spirit and unwavering optimism."

So too, Michael McKenna, contributing editor at The Washington Times, wrote, “A Christmas Carol” is the most popular story associated with the season in the English-speaking world because it is about the possibility of hope and optimism that is at once both religious and realistic. An old man, buried in misery, loneliness and remorse, learns it is never too late to change one’s own life and, in so doing, change the lives of those around us for the better. 

Best Wishes

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas filled with love, laughter, good food, cheerful, optimistic company and joy.


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Bible Reading


Luke 2:1-7 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.


Read "Bible Verses for Optimism and Optimists"


   Music for Christmas Optimism


We All Need A Little Christmas | Mame 


I Still Believe (Performed Live on "A Holly Dolly Christmas" TV Special)


Canticle of the Turning - Rory Cooney


"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" by The Choir of King's College, Cambridge


Little Drummer Boy (African Tribal Version) - Alex Boye' ft. Genesis Choir


More Quotable Quotes for Christmas Optimism


Rev Kenneth Padley: "Hope is optimism. Hope is certainty. And hope is engagement. That is why we hope with expectation of the future, trust in Christ, and patience in waiting. Christian hope is bigger and better than we can begin to conceive."

William Willimon: "For some, Christ's [second] coming is terrifying. Old verities give way at his arrival. Those who make their living by the status quo do not rejoice when the status quo is threatened. Caesar trembles, empires topple, and the earth shakes. For those tied to the old age and its gods, its armies, its delusions of immortality, its false securities, the arrival of the Son of Man is bad news. `Apocalypse now,' cry the prophets of doom. Let us put away these prophets, close our eyes and speak optimistically of tomorrow. But those who have watched, who have heeded the signs, who have never made peace with the status quo, who have lived as if there were no tomorrow prick up their ears, straighten, stand on tiptoes. The Anointed One comes, their redemption is near and the world's doom becomes their deliverance".

Thomas Merton: "The certainty of Christian hope lies beyond passion and beyond knowledge. Therefore we must sometimes expect our hope to come in conflict with darkness, desperation and ignorance. Therefore, too, we must remember that Christian optimism is not a perpetual sense of euphoria, an indefectible comfort in whose presence neither anguish nor tragedy can possibly exist. We must not strive to maintain a climate of optimism by the mere suppression of tragic realities. Christian optimism lies in a hope of victory that transcends all tragedy: a victory in which we pass beyond tragedy to glory with Christ crucified and risen."

Monsignor Sabino Vengco Jr.: "Our present life is a matter of what is still to come. At no point is it everything already, nor is everything there. Our life is about birth, growth, and maturation; there is even fullness expected in the end of life, in death, into what is eternal. There are depths and dimensions in one’s life and in the world at large still to be discovered and explored, forces to be unlocked so that life can be brought to its full potential. Creation is in progress and its plenitude and completeness are waiting: an optimism that is an essential component of Christian faith."

Rev. Dr. J. Barrington Bates: "Jesus showed an unquenchable, confident optimism—even in seemingly dire situations. And he commanded us not to fear, but live in hope."

 Pastor Peter Ryan, First and Christ United Methodist Churches: "Today, our Advent “word” is hope. What is hope? To me, the word represents that which we long for. It’s a word of optimism. A word that says that while we may not be living in the best of circumstances right now, we believe in a better future. Somehow things will change. There will be a turnaround. Things will be set to right."


Heavenly Image from The European Space Agency

Even our planetary neighbours are getting into the spirit – as shown by this perfect pair of festive silhouettes observed by ESA’s Mars Express. The defined wings of an angelic figure, complete with a halo, can be seen sweeping up and off the top of the frame in this image from Mars Express’ High-Resolution Stereo Camera, while a large heart sits just right of the centre. These shapes appear to jump out of the light tan — or, in the season's spirit, eggnog-colored! — the surface of Mars; their dark colour is a result of the composition of the constituent dune fields, which primarily comprise sands rich in dark, rock-forming minerals that are also found on Earth (namely pyroxene and olivine).

Festive-Silhouettes-Near-Mars-South-Pole-1536x680 (1)

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