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This Christmas as we gather together with friends and family we take a moment to reflect on the year and on the season. The wisest among us reflect on their blessings and the many good things that have come their way.

We think about the joys of the holiday season. Christmas lights, yuletide joy, sleigh bells, tinsel, and a tree bedecked with memories from Christmas past.

Christmas is an important time for families to come together and remember beloved family members who have passed. When we gather together, it is as if we can feel them in the room with us.

There are so many great things about Christmas – the smells of cookies baking in the oven, hot cider and flavored coffee, and the tree in the living room, bringing the outdoor woodsy scent inside.

These are among the many sensory joys that Christmas brings to us each year, and we eagerly await their arrival.

Christmas is great for what it doesn’t have

But of course all of these positive highlights of Christmas push away negative things that might have been in their place.

For instance when we hear the Salvation Army bell ringing outside of the store and we drop our change in the bucket we are being generous, but what we have pushed away is our selfishness and our lack of charity.

When we gather together with friends and family, we are pushing away loneliness and isolation that cause us to struggle with our daily lives and concerns.

And when we gather in the winter for a sleigh ride or a snowball fight, we can be thankful that we can hear each other outside because there is no Brood X of cicadas hanging from the trees, falling from the roof, and summoning mates from every corner of the backyard.

That’s right, Christmas is great in part because it doesn’t have cicadas.

This Christmas, as your loved ones huddle around the fireplace after a day of sledding, take an extra deep breath of the sprucey air in your living room, and exhale a sigh of relief. There are no cicadas here in this moment. We can hear. We can think. We can raise mulled cider to our lips without having to check if that’s a cicada floating in there or a cinnamon stick.

Thank goodness for Christmas, especially this year.

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