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Time — the greatest gift you can give

Every Christmas morning, excited children wake up and rush to discover what’s under the tree.

The thrill of young ones as they grow to love this annual tradition summons to mind images of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Their unabashed nature comes alive, spreading joy amid flying fragments of torn wrapping paper, ribbon and bows.

What’s under the tree is not nearly as important as the memories developed over years of celebrating the holiday with family and friends.

This year the holiday will be different, yet somehow the same at its core. We celebrate the reason for the season — the birth of a child named Jesus — and exchange gifts, even if we’re doing it by mail and getting together via Zoom technology this year.

Christmas Eve services will feel different with social distancing and masks in place. Will any carolers still come around? Yes, it will be different, but then time always seems to find a way to change our routines and rituals.

Normally, we might spend the week catching up with relatives we may not see as often and friends who return “home” to visit family. Many people will choose the safety of their loved ones first this year and plan to get back to that tradition next year.

For some, this holiday may feel particularly depressing because of far less in-person contact than is the custom. It’s important, now more than ever, that we reach out to our elderly loved ones, as well as others who may not have anyone in their lives, and do what we can to lift their spirits.

Sometimes, the greatest gift a person can give is their time. Surely that one won’t break the bank, yet not giving it can be quite costly in the long run.

So bring on the rituals, in a way that looks out for all. Set out some treats for Santa. Tuck in the children early and summon the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Then try to get some rest yourself as tomorrow, for sure, the youngsters are bound to be up early.

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