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Column: Don’t say a word; just celebrate, smile, hug

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My better half, Kate, and I have just finished holding our breath for a week.

She had gone in for a biopsy — a particularly lethal form of cancer. It was almost certainly benign, the doctor said. But in the few cases where it does come back positive — it’s time to update your will.

Fine, the odds were good. We “got” that. But even a slight possibility of something that stark really gets your attention.

Last Monday the result did come back: clear of cancer. We both started breathing again. Then Kate went out and bought a Christmas tree. We’ll have a happy holiday after all.

I have to say, something like that really puts life into perspective. There was a chance this holiday season would be our last together. Now my biggest problem is once more trying not to eat too much pie. Believe me, I’m a happy man.

Meanwhile, TV pundits are once more in a blood feud over whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”

Or whether Jesus was blond and blue-eyed or olive-skinned and brown-eyed.

As a noted politician recently said, “Are you kidding me?”

We should spend the weeks from late November till the Feast of the Epiphany thanking God and the Divine for the warmth, comfort and full bellies we have. We should be holding one another close.

Life is short and fragile enough as it is, even without medical emergencies.

And we’re arguing over “Happy Holidays?” What’s wrong with some people?

The very fact we’re even arguing about such stuff suggests to me the folks kicking up the most fuss must not have enough real problems to worry about.

I’m sitting here typing. The Christmas tree is quiet and sparkly. The cat’s asleep on a heating vent, and the snow is white on the hillside beyond the window.

Good Lord, I’m a lucky man. What’s more, if you’re able to read this and drink something warm, you’re probably lucky, too.

Misfortune isn’t the exception in this world. It’s the rule. The very act of getting born is a living miracle. This whole, too-short span between birth and death should be a time to appreciate our good luck.

At least, these five weeks at the end of the year should be reserved for giving thanks, especially for folks within the circle of these words.

And instead, we’re ginning up a feud over whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays?”

Wow. Just wow. Thank Buddha I have a sense of humor. In this crazy world we’ve built for ourselves, a body needs one.

So Happy Holidays to all. Or Merry Christmas. Or have a killer Kwanzaa. I don’t care.

The point is, it’s the season to lighten up. Smile a little. Declare a truce. Best of all, shake hands or hug one another. That doesn’t take any words at all. Surely no one could get stirred up about that.

Here’s the way to have a reverent season: Leave all cable news channels off till January. Don’t listen to what the greeter at the store says to you, either. Just smile and wave.

Celebrate. Appreciate. We have the whole rest of the year to get on one another’s nerves.

The Rev. Dennis McCarty is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Columbus. His opinions are his own, and members of his church may or may not agree with them. He can be reached by email at

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