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Winter Magic

The winter holidays hold special status in Western civilization. It is the only holiday season in the West for which people scramble about for weeks beforehand in preparation. Some people I know buy presents all year round, taking advantage of special sales.
     What makes these holidays so special? Certainly the religious aspect has to be the main influence. Christmas celebrates birth and salvation in the midst of winter, while Hanukkah recalls a miracle of light.
     Religion aside, the season itself contains magic. The air gets colder, trees are dark and bony bare, gray clouds could, at any time, powder the earth with gently falling crystals. Rooftops, wreathed menacingly with icy shards, are further weighted with glittering mounds of snow.
     Traffic moves a little slower. Wind blows a little louder. The nights are longer. And then there are the memories. Perennial music from long ago, resurrected once again, conjure images of simpler times. Listen how familiar it sounds — let your mind to drift into its subtle magic…
     Winter demands that we be more loving. All of nature calls on us to reflect. We are held to a different standard than the rest of the year. Shorter days; fewer distractions. Perhaps the chill outdoors reminds us of our mortality; we are called to question the true significance of our souls.
     It is not Santa Claus who is watching, who sees us when we are sleeping, and knows when we're awake. It's our own conscience. In winter's holiday season, we happily embrace the good, cleaning up our appearance, white as snow! But how deep is that transformation? And what lies underneath?
     Spring is coming — and then another summer and fall. They come and go, and time passes unrelenting, seeped with illusion. The seasons deceive us with assurances of cyclical immortality. Time passes and does not return. We age. There is only now, each moment of the year — equally as real, equally as ephemeral. Here and now — that is all we can ever claim, as we dream of a future that might never be, and sulk about the past that no longer exists.
     But if the past and future escape our grasp (despite our dreams), the eternal instant, which is now, is ever real. It is in our hands. It calls us unceasingly to take advantage of it — and live!
     We are alive, but it will not always be so. Reach out, while you can, to those you love. Make them feel special. Smiles, hugs, hearty hand shakes. Perhaps Ebenezer Scrooge is our best teacher in this regard. The happiness you give to others provides wonderful tonic to the soul. It is an integral part of life's essence.
     We are like pilgrims on the Earth, who know not where we come from, or where we go. We are sick and tired of greed, and falsehoods and hostilities. All we have is now, and the comfort of each other's love.
     Be generous with your affection.
     Learn to forgive (we all need forgiveness).

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