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May the blessing of Christmas be yours until next time this year

| Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

This is my Christmas gift (or at least a wish) for you this year:

Close your eyes for at least a minute.

Take a deep breath, or several slow deep breaths. Certainly don't hold your breath.

Have no thoughts of Christmas day – preparation for, any assessment of its success, no concerns about gifts given or received.

Step away from TV, radio, social networks in whatever form.

Be still and — as the railroad crossing signs used to tell us — stop, look (you will need to reopen your eyes) and listen.

In this moment – that is all yours and yours alone and which can be enjoyed at any time — you may renew your childhood vision of the holiday.

It is no secret that when we become adults, we lose our innocence.

I think we lose it because we fear it. We wrongly equate innocence with ignorance, with being unable to get along in the world, with being naïve.

For the purpose of the wish, or this gift, I am equating innocence with a real awareness of the world, no preconceived notions, an openness to good things, even love.

A quick example: I stepped onto the back porch in a gray, cool morning of misty rain this week with the dog. It was not fully light. Toward the top of a nearby hill, partially obscured by the black line of bare trees there was a light. It was somewhere between yellow and orange but not the sun, it was electric and it shone from somebody's window.

The light, the weather, the moment is of no significance except that it happened and I noted it.

And now, I won't forget it.

Your time is precious, so my wish – my gift if you find it at all sensible — is for you to find holiday enjoyment in the moments you make your own.

It can be done in a room full of family, or in the quiet just before you go to sleep, or in the car, in a personal care home or even at work (or at least I hope so).

Suggestions: In a room full of family, focus on a child or an elderly person. Contemplate what they are thinking, however removed it may be from your frame of mind. Smile if they look your way.

Before you fall asleep, be thankful for the darkness. In the car, note the passing landscape, cityscape or whatever is in view and without applying opinion. In a personal care home, feel the love of neighbors and workers. At work, give co-workers their importance back, and to the self-important, if there are any, give them a smile of understanding.

Clearly I am suggesting that at least part of your Christmas celebrating be less raucous, less hectic and more thoughtful – indeed contemplative – than it might otherwise become.

It is a small wish, or a gift that need not be returned if not to your liking.

But to some, it may be that gift that “keeps on giving” and which can be shared with others.

Above all, find the peace of Christmas and may its blessing be yours until this time next year.

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to

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