​Bill Flanagan on the Christmas spirit

The frantic run-up to Christmas easily makes the Scrooges among us say "Bah, Humbug!" So what does our contributor Bill Flanagan think?

People used to get offended when stores put up their Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. This year they went up the day after Halloween! The Christmas season has never been more commercial.

And you know what? I think that's great!

I know people lament that the true meaning of Christmas is getting lost in the commercial frenzy, but this is America. Commerce is our currency. You can tell how much we love something -- football, 4th of July, dinner -- by how we overdo it.

Christmas is our biggest blowout, which means that -- underneath all the plastic snowmen and chocolate Santas and holiday sales -- way down deep, part of us still values the promise made in a cave in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

That's a promise that there is more to this world than what we see. There is meaning to this life beyond how much stuff we have or how much money we owe. It's a promise that no matter how dark the world seems, we are heading toward a light.

For believers, Christmas holds the hope of forgiveness and salvation. But even if your faith has faded, Christmastime might connect you with those you still care about.

And if you have lost those you love? The season reminds you that love is real, that love is the only emotion that does not fade with time. Time makes love grow stronger.

So deck the malls with boughs of holly. In a world filled with bad news, Christmas is a big, blinking electric billboard for the best part of us.

I hope that light never goes out.

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