Christmas, they say, is for children.
I disagree, although it's easy to understand why people arrive at this conclusion since nothing is more heart-pinging than watching small people during this holiday season.
Adults might require the actual second coming of Christ before we could ever be restored to a state of wonder.
But little kids need nothing more than a glint of tinsel (although there's no denying that the sparkling prospect of gifts jacks up the excitement).
Still, celebrants lucky enough to be around children this time of year realize their good fortune in seeing the special pleasures of the season through young eyes opened so wide.
I miss all this acutely because, as it happens, this Christmas I am the mother of a person who is 12 years of age, and members of our species at this particular age are typically straddling a most uncomfortable no-man's-land between childhood and teendom.
So what this translates into at our house, anyway, is that any mention her father and I might make of Santa Claus is met with a sophistication of the jaded, eye-rolling variety.
But it also means, much to my astonishment, that this flower blossom of a girl agrees easily enough that leaving out a plate of cookies on Christmas Eve might not necessarily be a bad idea.
Yes, indeed: This is the year innocence lost its footing.
There's been a lot of that lately.
Long-held beliefs and assumptions, so ingrained as to be taken for granted, were whittled down hard this year.
Aren't we all now straddling an unfamiliar and most uncomfortable no-man's-land?
Last night we marked the winter solstice. It's that time when the sun is as far south as it gets, stranding us in the shortest and darkest day of the year.
But from now until the summer, the sun moves north again, and day by day, we add a little sunshine.
A minute here, a minute there.
If we are only patient, we will find that we have moved back into the light soon enough.
Slowly, but surely.
I'll be on vacation next week, with my family at home, where our mutual hope is that we'll do nothing at all except hang around together like bears hunkered down in a winter's den.
I sincerely hope that in this holiday season you and the people you love will gather together (or those of you of other faiths who already have) to find peace and quiet and the shared pleasure of one another's company.
This is the year to dismiss old grievances and grudges. This is the year to say the kind thing left unsaid too long. This is the year to hug each other, hard, maybe a second or two longer than usual.
This is the year to withhold criticism, to rush to praise, to look for all that's good about the people of your family (even if that search is so hard it has you turning over rocks), because they are, after all, your family - and the way you can be sure of this is precisely because they have the power to drive you absolutely up-the-wall crazy.
Now, that's love.
Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays,
and Saturdays. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-419-724-6086.
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