Make best of all that is positive

For many families, Christmas Eve, from before dawn through midnight, holds as much or more excitement than the actual holiday observance itself.

It’s not necessarily because of the rush to tie up the proverbial loose ends of holiday shopping, although that might factor into the overall scenario. In many cases, it’s because this final day before Christmas is when families’ longtime, cherished holiday traditions gear up, in anticipation of what will take place fewer than 24 hours hence.

Christmas is a sentimental time, as well as a joyous and busy one. It’s one where there’s the temptation for people’s minds to be distracted from safety considerations that guide them during most other times of the year.

Many families gather for meals not only on Christmas Day but also Christmas Eve.

Many families without young children do their gift-opening Christmas Eve, rather than rise early the next morning for that holiday ritual.

Members of many families opt to attend Christmas Eve services, rather than wait until Christmas Day.

Amid all of that is the time needed for meal preparations, putting gifts under the Christmas tree and making sure everyone’s Christmas outfit is just right. Especially when out-of-town family members or other guests are present, much time is spent “catching up” on happenings since last Christmas.

But a big part of the good stuff Christmas Eve offers to those who celebrate Jesus’ birth on earth is the requirement for vigilance and safety. It’s tragic when people have to open their Christmas Day or Dec. 26 Mirror and read about injuries, fatalities, fires and crimes — all of which could have been avoided.

It’s tragic when people have to read about — or watch newscasts about — how families’ celebrations of this holiday were shattered because someone opted to drive while intoxicated.

To help prevent such tragedies is why police patrols are beefed up during the holiday season and why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” impaired-driving enforcement campaign is up and running.

And, commendably, police don’t exude holiday spirit when they pull over someone who has been driving dangerously because of having had too much to drink. It’s better to arrest the driver than allow him or her to endanger himself, herself or others — or others’ property.

No matter how busy one might be today, there are better options than allowing oneself to become overly stressed out, or to become so enveloped by haste that good judgment is replaced by dangerous, tragic or illegal choices that could end up ruining Christmas and many weeks, months or years beyond.

Don’t try to mold traditions into perfection; allow them to take care of themselves after you’ve taken the necessary first steps to ensure that they’ll be part of your holiday.

You’re not a failure if not everything runs flawlessly.

Make the best of all the positive things that the holiday brings your way, and try to inspire others to do the same.

A priest of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese about a half-century ago made it a point at Christmastime to remind his parishioners to live that holiday as they would want to live it, if they knew it was destined to be their last.

That message has a relevant place today in these hours leading up to Christmas 2018.