There is, as the song goes, a kind of hush all over the world at this time of year.

I remember standing outside during Christmas Day, and it being completely still. I looked up and down the block — a block that is, if not always very busy, then at least home to some kind of foot traffic if not vehicular traffic as well — and there was absolutely no-one to be seen. It was as if everyone was hiding away, worried that Santa was running late and they didn’t want to ruin their chances of getting presents by seeing him.

It made me remember the stillness of my hometown on Christmases of my childhood. Again, I lived on a street that was relatively busy at almost every other part of the year, but every single Christmas, it would be supernaturally quiet, as if there had been some kind of law passed that everyone had to stay inside their homes until a certain time had come and gone. The street would be entirely empty, desolate, until some indistinct point in the afternoon when — no matter the weather — a child would appear on a new bicycle, wobbling their way down the road with an anxious parent nervously running behind. Every single year.

There weren’t any kids on bikes this year. Things stayed entirely quiet for the entire day, as far as I could see. (Perhaps everyone was afraid of the snow storm that had been forecast, but waited until we were all in bed, asleep, before barely arriving.) But it got me thinking: maybe there’s something about the holidays that makes everything particularly quiet — people traveling to see loved ones and then staying inside with those loved ones, perhaps, or something more basic about the bad weather. (Who could blame them?)

Maybe that’s something else to treasure about the holidays, then: the temporary silence that speeds around the world, allowing us a chance to turn off, just for a little bit.

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