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Spread the light this holiday season

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men” ( Luke 2:14) The message of the holiday season is a clear one: peace and joy. For Christians, it is the celebration of the birth of the Savior.

Christians do not hold a monopoly on the miraculous. Other faith traditions look to this time of year, as full of wonder in other ways. For some, it is the rebirth of the sun following the longest night of the year, at the winter solstice. Others use it as a reminder of the re-dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem, and how one day’s worth of oil lasted eight.

Regardless of the faith or tradition, the themes of the holiday season are similar, in that they show the triumph of the light to banish the darkness. The light may be the star leading three wise men to Bethlehem, the fireworks in the Hindu festival of Diwali, or the lighting of the Kinara and the renewal of a cultural identity, but each in their own way pushes back the darkness.

The holiday season is a reminder to all of us we must work to push back the darkness in our own lives and in our own communities. As we gather with family and friends over this season, there will be the sharing of stories and renewal of traditions.

There will be special dishes prepared and shared at these gatherings. There will be presents exchanged and the laughter of children. For many, there will be joy.

As people gather and celebrate with their own families, it is important to remember those for whom the darkness is especially strong and the light seemingly far away. People living with loss, illness or economic need, may struggle through the season, simply seeking to survive and make it through to another day.

As individuals and communities, we must embrace those for whom the darkness is especially strong and work to bring light into their lives. While not every problem can be waived away by a well-timed fruit basket and an embrace, those don’t hurt.

Individuals can spread the light by working year-round to make sure food pantry shelves are kept full or making donations to groups that provide mental health services, grief support or help with addiction recovery. There are many ways each person can spread the light of the holiday season throughout the coming year.

The holiday season is a time to come together and celebrate. It is also a time for each person to look to their neighbors and communities, and spread light and joy to those in darkness.

Members of the Courier Sentinel editorial board include publisher Carol O’Leary, general manager Kris O’Leary and Star News editor Brian Wilson.