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The magic of Christmas is an often-elusive concept that can escape the sophisticated. Life sometimes conditions those of us “on the shady side of 40” to look with irritation or indifference on the hustle and bustle of Christmas. The overt commercialism of the holidays is sometimes less than appealing. It is a mind-set I think we all would like to get more away from, returning to the religious and spiritual side of Christmas.

But we have to balance the commercial side of Christmas with the ecstatic smile of a small child who has just talked to Santa or written a hopeful letter to the North Pole. There are indeed visions of sugar plums delightfully whirling around in their small heads. Who among us does not remember wondering how Santa was going to climb down the narrow chimney with all of those toys? Or how Santa was going to get around the whole world in a single night?

And some few of us even remember looking into the starry night sky, on a cold Christmas Eve, and wondering if that glimmer of light, just to the right of tomorrow and onward toward yesterday, was a reflection from Santa’s sleigh, carried aloft by colorful reindeer in the inky night sky.

The wash of emotions that surround us each Christmas are a tidal wave of memories. Visions of Mom and Dad, family members and friends from the past float through our heads like ephemeral visions in a scene from “A Christmas Carol.” Thoughts of a younger and more carefree self give us pause to reflect nostalgically on the magic of a yesterday now far away. There is some regret for those no longer with us, but the ache is softened by time, blurred in memory to a soft and hazy glow.

All around us we see acts of generosity to the less fortunate, by people from every walk of life. The kindnesses are heartwarming to even the most cynical among us. They reveal a basic decency and a goodness in people that often times lies submerged during the rest of the year. We see looks of appreciation from the recipients of this generosity that bring mist to our eyes and make us wonder why we are not more appreciative of the good fortune that God has blessed us with.

In our families, we remember the many selfless acts offered by those who love us. Somehow, we have come to expect this exemplary behavior from those around us and, in doing so, we lessen its value. We would do well to consider how much family and friends do to enrich our lives.

And as we look around us, we see the many unique and special people who share our lives with us. They, too, perform many acts of kindness. They, too, do this daily and without thinking. They share with us a camaraderie and a concern for our welfare that is much treasured, especially when periodic shadows block the sun in our lives. Their “Christmas gifts” are given to us with much the same magic.

For those many daily gifts, from each of those around us, I would suggest we offer a sincere thank you for the spirit in which they were given. Like ripples in a pond, the effects of this generosity of spirit will flow outward and into our entire lives, enriching them immeasurably.

My very warmest wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year. And, as Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, every one.”