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I was speaking to someone about Christmas today. Such a strange holiday, Christmas, for those of us who have children, and want them to take part in the beauty and light of a dark season, but who are also not Christian.

It is like walking a tightrope, between hypocrisy and deception on one side, and cynicism and dismissal on the other. Of huge worry, too, whether one is Christian or not, is the turn toward gross displays of consumerism; the enormous machine of advertising begins churning just after Halloween, and one is confronted everywhere with the message to “buy buy buy,” and that the buying will create joy, contentment, and the great memories of childhood.

As I was fretting about all this today, the man to whom I was speaking looked at me directly and said, “You don’t need to do this work. Children create their own magic. They don’t need you to do it for them.”

To this I had no response: such a simple truth, and so easily forgotten. Last night my husband and I were debating about “the toy count” – too much, too little, will they fight, will they care? And really it’s beside the point, and all the machinations of the holiday can be reduced to this single idea: children, and human beings, need love, community, and light; the rest is redundancy.

Although I do not worship within Christian walls, I believe this was a teaching of Christ, and one that resonates with all beings everywhere.

But of course we’ll still make the “toy count” come out even…

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