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Christmas can be breathed all year long

Having grown up in Montreal, I am very familiar with what the holiday season should look like, according to the brilliant minds of corporate marketing executives.

First of all there needs to be a fresh blanket of snow draped over the city. I love the look of Christmas trees and even entire buildings glowing with hundreds of multi-colored lights.

Yes, it is the holiday season and there’s no turning back. Everyone is smiling and openly greeting strangers with either a “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Kwanzaa.” That faithful spark that automatically ignites the warmth within our hearts has once again fulfilled its purpose.

Everyone seems to be more at peace with humanity, except for those stuck in checkout lines at retail outlets. There, one can sense the anxiety, the shopping competition, where the ugly face of humanity tries to beat you down. Ah, yes, it’s Christmas time once again, and as usual, I spent the year gearing up for the event.

If I see something in a store that seems like a great gift for someone I care about, I buy it, especially during post-holiday sales events. In a perfect world, by the time the holiday season rolls around, I will have most, if not all of my gifting complete — then all I have to deal with is long post office lines.

The most important thing to remember during the holidays is the actual reason for the season. Let us not lose focus on what is the real foundation of Christmas. It has nothing to do with the marketing genius of the Coca Cola company in 1931 creating the Santa character we know and love today. We need to not worry about gifting to satisfy modern-day commercialism. Why not write a note (or email) with tidings of joy and peace?

It doesn’t matter who you are or from where your roots originated. We have a common celebration. My Jewish friends partake in Hanukkah, their eight-day Festival of Lights, with nightly lighting of the menorah. For my African-American friends, their week of Kwanzaa celebration honors their heritage and shares a common theme with Hanukkah and the Christmas we all know and love gifts and food.

Commercialization has seduced all of us and will continue to do so, for as long as we allow it.

If you can remember the reason for the season, and walk the walk and talk the talk, you’ll set a positive example to others as to what loving each other should look like. Once we master the compassion and caring thing, I am left with one contemplation that repeats perpetually seeking resolution. If everyone is so nice between Thanksgiving and the new year, what on earth is preventing us from being nice year round?

I guess being nice is like holding your breath, you can only do it for so long. Eventually you will gasp for air.

I try not to hold my breath. If my year round inhale is taking in life’s joy and my exhale is loving and caring for others, then it doesn’t matter if it’s December or July. I have the Christmas spirit in me, always.

Richard Hunter lives in Jacksonville.

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