I received this wonderful Christmas greeting from a friend, Rev. Jan Dus, in the Czech Republic. He titled it ‘Christmas in Prague’. I think it is wonderfully written and a blessed Christmas gift!
Christmas in Prague:
The Day after Václav Havel’s Funeral
It is a Christmas Eve morning, as I am writing this greeting to you. Quite an unusual Christmas Eve, here in the Czech Republic. The country just woke up from a three-days mourning of our deceased President. Thousands and thousands were following his body to the Castle of Prague; thousands and thousands were present at the funeral. And millions of others were following in their hearts.
Nevertheless, there is one thing that I am not sure of. I am not sure, if Vaclav Havel would like these three official days of public grief. This man with a shy smile… This man who was always putting a great emphasis on the values that he was standing for and a little emphasis on himself. Was he a political prisoner, was he the symbol of the Velvet Revolution, was he a president – it was never about himself. He never wanted to be in the center. He was always pointing to the values that he was standing for – freedom and democracy.
At the funeral of Vaclav Havel, we also realized that we were saying good-bye to the last President of Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918. In 1920s and 1930s, it was one of just a few countries in Europe which were standing for democracy and human dignity. Czechoslovakia lasted for less than a century; a century that was packed with turmoils in Europe. And still it could hardly wish to have a better beginning and a better end – having Tomáš Garrrique Masaryk to be its first and Václav Havel to be its last Presidents.
And there is one very personal link between Vaclav Havel and our family. Ester Vanova, the sister of my wife Anna, died on December 29th, 1989. She died of cancer at the age of 21 on the very same day when Vaclav Havel was first elected President of Czechoslovakia. You know it well yourselves how times of excitement and times of grief easily intertwine. And still – hope prevails… Despite of our deep concerns, my in-laws found new strength and spark of life. In the time of death of their daughter, the new hope started stemming from political changes – which were so much impersonated by the President.
All these things are closely related to Christmas for me. At the surface, Christmas might seem to be a smiley, romantic, and easy-going jingle-bell time. But in real, Christmas is the moment when Hope breaks through, when Faith is born in the middle of despair.
I wish you a meaningful Christmas,
Rev. Jan Dus
Genealogical and Travel Services
E. Vencovskeho 1141, Policka – Czech Republic