I’d been meaning to write this week about how the run-up to Christmas, with all its fripperies, always gives me hope for the future.
I’d intended to write about how my mother and I got caught up in the bauble extravaganza of Macy’s during a trip to New York city last week.
But I had drafted that column in an Irish bar off Times Square, under the eagle eye of my mother, before we attempted to get a cab to take us back to our hotel at about the time the Rockefeller Christmas tree was supposed to be lit up.
Instead I want to tell you about what ended up happening to us during that cab journey.
We were supposed to be heading south and west, and the lure of a free cab persuaded me to hail it a block or two early.
But due to the tens of thousands of people expected to line the streets for the light switch-on, we were actually directed to go towards the Rockefeller Plaza instead.
Suddenly the NYPD were everywhere, horns were blaring and sirens were blipping.
In short, it was just like you see on the telly.
But then, almost out of nowhere, the protestors came.
Soon our taxi was an island in a sea of people, demonstrating about the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
They were demanding the NYPD let them through the closed streets and, as our taxi was buffeted by the sheer number of people, it was clear to see the strength of feeling that still exists after that August shooting.
I’m glad our coppers don’t, as a rule, carry guns.
And I’m glad we can stage national events without the need to involve seemingly every single member of the Metropolitan Police.
The protestors used the Christmas tree in NYC as a way to get their message across to the American nation watching on TV.
But I want them and everyone affected by that shooting to look at that Christmas tree, soaring into the sky, and see it as a symbol of hope for the future – a future where nothing like that will ever happen anywhere ever again.