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‘Open your life, home to goodness’

On this Christmas Eve, it is important to remember that the political controversy in which this country is mired should not be permitted to ruin the holiday season that is upon us.

During the coming days, be sure that any agitation, bitterness or divisiveness you might harbor, stemming from what is happening in Washington, D.C., is locked away securely so you will be able to open your life and your home to the goodness that the season represents.

Be committed to keeping the spirit of generosity and compassion entrenched in your life, the whole time keeping in mind the importance of good judgment and safety in this busiest of times that the year presents.

Don’t allow yourself to become the subject of a tragic news report, or otherwise a victim of a wrong decision whose negative consequences might extend long beyond Christmas and the start of the new year.

Some readers might recall the thoughts that the Mirror’s Patt Keith expressed in a Nov. 23 article headlined “Not tidings of comfort, joy: Soap, humidity, rest help keep seasonal illnesses at bay.”

If you kept the article, today is a good time to re-read it.

Christmas is a wonderful time to mend a frayed relationship or to reflect on life’s real meaning and priorities, outside of the oftentimes frivolous resolution-making in which many people engage in anticipation of the coming 12 months.

The holiday season always brings with it nostalgia regarding Christmases or times past, or perhaps about relatives, friends or other acquaintances no longer living.

Much nostalgia is evoked by the Christmas carols and other holiday-themed music that is part of television programs, on radios and in stores.

Holiday traditions abound, not only in America but around the world, such as one in Gavle, Sweden, involving a huge straw Yule goat that is displayed in the town square, part of an ancient Nordic Christmas celebration of the solstice.

Also, there is the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes — the serving of seven different fish/seafood dishes on Christmas Eve, a tradition that is believed to date back to Sicily — and a nationwide tradition in Japan, where an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to Kentucky Fried Chicken every Christmas season.

Here in America, especially for many families of Slovak descent, Christmas Eve dinner would be incomplete without oplatky, a Communion-like wafer stamped with a nativity scene, spread with honey to symbolize the unleavened bread of the Passover supper.

For many families, also part of that Christmas Eve meal is bobalky, which consists, in part, of bread, honey and poppy seeds.

Some not-so-well-known happenings are testimony to the goodness and cheer that this holiday season can evoke, such as during one Christmastime amid the Great Depression when a mysterious “B. Virdot” took out a tiny ad in a Canton, Ohio, newspaper, offering to help the needy before Christmas.

In all, checks of $5 each — not much in today’s world but more like $100 back then — went out to 150 families across town, according to a story in the December 2010 issue of Smithsonian magazine.

Today is a day almost as special as Christmas Day. Indeed, remain interested in what’s happening here and around the world, but be hopeful and prayerful, not depressed, over what the future might hold.

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