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For Holiday Joy, Look Homeward The Spokesman-Review’s Opinion Page Staff Is Taking A Break From Politics Today To Share Some Family Lore And Wish Our Readers, One And All, A Lovely Holiday Season.

Christmas is really two holidays. I love ‘em both.

One feels more like a prayer than a riot. It’s a whisper of peace every Christmas Eve. It’s a pause for candles, carols, communion and the stunning story of a Creator who cared so much he came to Earth to prove it, reaching out with human hands - first tiny, then strong, then pierced, and living still.

The other holiday surrounds the first, at our house, going on for days in a joyful blur of lights, music, food, old friends, generosity, gingerbread houses, family, the “Muppet Christmas Carol” video and (drumroll, please) a strap-on halo for the family dog. When ol’ Blue skitters across the floor and leaps onto my lap, halo askew, it’s darned near impossible to feel like Scrooge.

However your family celebrates the season, please accept the best wishes of those who produce these pages for you, all year long. Happy holidays!

John Webster/Opinion editor

The baby of our family just turned 13. This Christmas, I missed shopping for Fisher-Price toys and American Girls books. The little girl who once wore a bright red reindeer dress has turned into a seventh-grader with precisely defined tastes: bell-bottomed jeans, Doc Martens, omnipresent hair scrunchies. Yet I know the spirit of that exuberant brown-eyed girl shines this season in the compassionate half-girl, half-young-woman Megan has become. Like her older sister, Megan remains the kid we’ve always loved even as she transforms into her adult self.

This is a Christmas for telling our teen daughters, “Thank you for growing up. We’re proud of you!”

Jamie Tobias Neely/Editorial writer

Christmas lights make the season for me. The creative urge can be a beautiful thing to see on a dark December night. Or it can be worth a good chuckle. No matter. When I take the drive to see the strands of holiday color, I know the good humor and high spirits of the season survive.

Chris Peck/Editor

One man is my father. The other is my brother-in-law, Adam. They stand together forever in my wedding picture taken 12 years ago. Both healthy, both strong. Both now dead. At Christmas and other family gatherings, we place “spirit food” next to the picture - Scotch for Adam, bourbon for Dad, mixed nuts for both. We’ve adapted this American Indian tradition of honoring our ancestors. It felt weird the first year, but now Christmas would feel weird without the spirit food and the empty chair in front of it.

Rebecca Nappi/Interactive editor

Before March 15, 1972, I thought the Christmas story was as phony as the tale of a merry elf from the North Pole stuffing socks. On that day, I met the Virgin’s child while reporting on a tragic bus wreck. Except he no longer was a babe. He bore the scars caused by mankind’s sins - and mine. That divine appointment changed my life. It gave me purpose, insight and, most of all, hope in a world spinning out of control. Now, I enjoy the celebration of Emmanuel’s first visit - as I anticipate his return as King of Kings. Come, Lord Jesus.

D.F. Oliveria/Editorial writer

Christmas was my father’s favorite holiday. So it was cruel for him to find out two weeks before Christmas that he had only about a year to live. I saw him react as the doctor spoke the words - it’s hard to see your dad like that. My mother and father spent Christmas at my house that year. It was likely to be our last Christmas together, so my wife and I wanted something special for their room. We settled on a little Christmas tree, and we decorated it with miniature ornaments. When they saw it, they cried good tears. He’s gone now, but those little ornaments hang on my family’s tree. He is still a part of my family’s Christmas.

Scott Sines/Managing editor

Sunday morning, about 10. Only a handful of Christmas shoppers are out as a deranged man pedals his bicycle down near-empty Main Avenue, screaming holiday commentaries, mixing piety with profanity. Jacob Marley is obviously not the only tormented soul abroad at Christmastime. May they all find peace on Earth - and peace of mind.

Doug Floyd/Interactive editor

One of the great themes of Christmas, and one we chronicle in the pages of the newspaper every day, is the profound difference that individuals make in our world. This time of year especially, there are great reminders: sports heroes’ victories, peacekeepers’ efforts in Bosnia, the thousands of contributors to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund. The most important instances don’t make the news, though: the difference that caring families make to the futures of their children. In the rush of re-creating the rituals and traditions of the season, remember the difference you make to the children you touch.

Stacey Cowles/Publisher

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = John Webster, Jamie Tobias Neely, Chris Peck, Rebecca Nappi, D.F. Oliveria, Scott Sines, Doug Floyd and Stacey Cowles

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