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Take a break from news and enjoy the season

By Rebecca Horvath • Dec 6, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Just the other day, I was in the car listening to the news, as I often do when I’m driving alone. Since I’m in the car a lot, it’s a great way to keep up with what’s going on in the world. But that morning, two particularly contentious guests were having a heated argument. The host sounded helpless to regain control and could only interject with brief, futile attempts at calming down the “experts.”

After a few minutes of the back-and-forth, I couldn’t take anymore. I angrily punched the preset button to change to another station and immediately, strains of a beloved Christmas song floated into my ears. I realized my pulse had quickened just listening to the hostility of the news show and it slowed back to normal right away.

Music is a powerful thing anyway, but in this case, it reminded me just how much we need Christmas right now.

More than most years in memory, the joy and excitement of the holiday season is coming just when we need it most. Amid the endless list of well-known men being accused of inappropriate behavior or assault, the constant mudslinging between political parties, various tensions on the world stage and everything else, we have an opportunity to be reminded of what is truly important in life.

Maybe just for a few days, we could put aside all of the negative stuff and focus on something else. We could stop grumbling over President Trump’s latest tweet or which Hollywood star did what to whom and appreciate a Christmas card in the mail or settle in to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Maybe instead of switching on the evening news, we could load up in the car and go for a drive to look at festive Christmas lights. Instead of watching disgraced celebrities eat crow, we could sit down to a meal with the family. Instead of digging up dirt on this politician or that one, we could go cut down a fresh Christmas tree and let the kids have fun decorating it. (This particular activity — the fresh tree — is not an option in my household after several years of disastrous experiences, but that’s a story for another day.) The soundtrack to all our activities should, of course, be our favorite Christmas music; it’s pretty hard to be grumpy while listening to Bing Crosby.

My family has decided to spend our weekend evenings this month watching Christmas movies. (My teenager even suggested a rule that we have to put our phones in another room for the duration. Seems like a great idea to me!) We’ll watch the kiddie favorites like the original “Grinch” and the venerable Charlie Brown and Frosty. But we’ll also pull out the classics like “White Christmas” and “Holiday Inn” and I’m thrilled that at least one of my kids is now old enough to appreciate my all-time favorite flick, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

One powerful way to forget our problems is to help others with theirs. How can we focus on ourselves when we are doing something for others in need? It can be easy — while out shopping, we can pick up a toy or some clothes to donate to a child in need, grab a few extra groceries for a single parent or elderly friend or donate to a charity when checking out.

Some local grocery stores sell inexpensive food boxes at checkout that are donated to needy families — a super simple and no-fuss way to help. Or what if we set aside $5 every time we shopped for gifts or holiday baking and then donated that money to a church or charity? There are many, many families right here in Washington County who struggle to put food on the table every day, much less provide Christmas for their kids; fortunately, many charities assist them, but those organizations need our help to do so.

The holiday season is also difficult for folks who have lost loved ones during the year; we all probably know of someone hurting this season. Why not take that family a meal or invite them to join you for a movie, shopping or just coffee and conversation?

Let’s use this season as a reminder of all the good in the world and focus on that instead of all the things dividing us. Maybe just a for a short time, we can put aside politics and news and conflict and enjoy time with family and friends, help those in need and remember all the wonderful things we have to celebrate. Merry Christmas!

Rebecca Horvath of Johnson City is a wife, mother and community volunteer. She can be reached at rebeccasjh@hotmail.com.

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