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Merry Christmahanakwanzikafestivus!

Hailee Bland-Walsh

I love this time of year. The holidays hold a magical quality as they fill us with wonder and joy. There is something brilliantly romantic about the festive decor which adorns the season. As we gather with loved ones, we cherish each other with thoughtfulness and gifts. We connect through ritual and celebration. Even the weather seems to hold something special. I always find that in the crisp winter air, things seem somehow clearer. Dreams begin to take shape. In the span of one minute, one year ends and another begins. There is nothing quite like it.

I must admit, I'm worried--concerned that the luster of the holiday season is in danger. It seems lately that there is a deafening presence of "us" versus "them" mentality. Fear threatens to tarnish the very brilliance of this season, as we shutter our hearts to those that we perceive as not like us. By doing so, we miss out on the single most important practice of the season, love.

We have taken our eye off the prize. The holiday season isn't about what the cashier does or doesn't wish you as you check out, or the color and decor on your to-go, coffee cup. It certainly isn't a competition between religious practices or for Pete's sake, a debate on the color of Santa Claus' skin. I will say it again, it's about love. Take a minute and let that sink in.

What if rather than spending time tallying your holiday grievances, you spent more time loving? What if you spent time in service as a volunteer or created an intention to be more present with those you care about? How would your holiday season be more amplified, if rather than going on a social media rampage about your values, you just simply lived them? Show the world who you are by how you are.

The truth is your beliefs and values are not diminished when you acknowledge and embrace the beliefs and values of others. Quite to the contrary. The more you can see how much we are alike, the greater the chance to embody the very values to which you ascribe.

So let us put love back into the holiday season and celebrate the wonderful ways in which we are connected. Allow that connection to fill us with wonder and joy. Hold fast to those things that are dear to you, but do so with generosity and openness. If we can all commit to doing that, this season will be exceptionally sparkly and deeply fulfilling.

In the spirit of love, Merry Christmahanakwanzikafestivus, to each and every one of you!

-Hailee