Christmas is and has always been about family. This is the time when we get together with our loved ones and share that spirit of togetherness that keeps us going for another year.

As with all things human, it is what’s inside that really counts. Christmas has become a universal time of hope, peace and goodwill. Like any of this season’s beautifully wrapped gifts, you must pull off the bows and rip away the paper to find out what’s really inside.

In a sense, it has transcended its religious beginnings. It’s the spirit of the thing, the hopefulness and humanity espoused by Jesus Christ. It’s not the time for exclusion of other faiths, races or ethnicities. It’s a time to emulate what religion is in its best and purest form — goodwill for all people.

Let’s allow the divisiveness that has characterized so much of this year to fade and let this day be a call for what next year could potentially bring.

There are many who won’t get to see their loved ones this Christmas.

We are still in the midst of a pandemic; we’ve lost so many of those who strived to make our community what it is now that it’s disheartening at times.

While that’s the case, please put rhetoric aside even if just for a day. Christmas is a time for unity and peace.

Christmas has evolved into a time when we should do something to help those in need find a way to share in the universal warmth and good feelings of the holiday. We’ve seen that with numerous food drives, a massive Toys for Tots program and the Sheriff Santa program — all funded by locals to help out locals.

Christmas has become a time when one remembers loved ones and friends, near or far, with tokens of affection whether they be presents or greeting cards. It has become, more than any other time or any other celebration, a time when we are all one people — regardless of nationality, race, religion or ethnicity.

It is a time when the power is with us — the power of shared emotions, shared feelings, shared concerns, shared hopes, shared burdens, shared solutions, shared love. Christmas has come to stand for hope. It has come to magnify the importance of the betterment of the human condition.

This is the true gift of Christmas.

Remember what today represents. A very long time ago, a tiny baby was born in rather humble surroundings. But he was, and continues to be, a symbol of redemption, forgiveness, love, peace, charity and hope.

While purists may lament its increasingly commercialized nature, there is a deep human need for Christmas. The religious meaning of Christmas, with its message of hope both on Earth and in the hereafter, must never be eclipsed by what the holiday has evolved into. Yet, there is a great and wonderful message to be learned from the independent presence of Santa Claus, Rudolph and all their assorted elves and trappings of the season.

Whatever your beliefs, we wish you and your family a most wonderful and joyous Christmas. And in the spirit of loving thy neighbor — ALL thy neighbors — we wish you what we would wish for ourselves. That is, health and hope, success and much happiness in the year to come.

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