The Yuletide season is upon us once more. The temperatures are dropping and the snow flakes are falling as we wind our way through December into winter. The colorful lights are twinkling and the carols are playing, making spirits bright and making children laugh and sing and smile.
All around the world doors are decorated with wreaths and ribbons, and candles shine from windows. Houses, buildings, lawns, and bridges, and even the boats on the river have been adorned with Santa sleighs and reindeer, snowmen, and garland after garland of tinsel and bright colorful lights.
Lighted snowflakes, bells, and candy canes on the poles line the streets of cities all across the lands. Colorful Christmas trees adorn the windows of all the homes we visit, and the shops and restaurants we frequent. The malls are decked with boughs of holly and giant Christmas ornaments, and jingle all the way is the cry of Christmas shoppers everywhere. Granted much of the mad dashing excitement has already happened a few weeks ago on Black Friday, but we all know it won't really be over till after the first of the year.
This time of year here in the southeast the rain falls more often, the sun sets earlier, and the temperatures drop drastically as soon as the sun has gone down. There are a lot more people on the roads going to and fro shopping and making merry, and many of them are visitors who are unfamiliar with the roads. With the often adverse weather conditions, crowded roads after dark, and all the mental distractions of the season, the risk of accidents is much greater. It's a really good idea to take these things into consideration, even if it isn't always easy when we're caught up in the excitement, and give ourselves a little extra travel time so we can not be quite so rushed. In the long run our loved ones will appreciate us still being around for them after the holidays much more than they will appreciate anything we are trying to buy for them.
A little jingling along the way can be very helpful in a city, especially here in the temperate rain forests of the Southeast U.S., where it rains a lot during the autumn and winter. With all the humidity here the card readers in the parking meters have a tendency to just opt out all together pretty regularly. The ones I use locally work most reliably with coins, so I try to always keep a couple of dollars in change in my console. If I know in advance that a lot of my Christmas shopping will take place in the city with curb-side parking meters, I usually just put all my change in my console at the end of each day so I'll have it while I am out.
Another thing that's good to keep in mind is that the card reading systems can get overloaded and overwhelmed this time of year, and the card readers can just suddenly stop working. Sometimes it's just the reader and the card numbers can be typed in manually, but other times the systems fail all together and cards are just of no use at that time. While carrying a lot of cash during the holiday shopping season could be a bad idea, carrying a little is almost always a good idea any time of the year. This way you can at least cover basic necessities like food, drinks, or fuel while you're out if the system goes down or there is a power outage.
But I think the most important thing for us to keep in mind, as we make our way through all the mass craziness, are the true meanings behind this season. What it is that we are actually celebrating, and the real reasons we venture out into the madness in the first place. So that we don't get caught up in the minutia, lost in the stress, and lose sight of those things in the process. We are celebrating a life dedicated to peace on earth, and to spreading love and joy and good will to all mankind. And we celebrate that life by going out and giving of our time, putting ourselves into finding special gifts that we hope will bring smiles of joy to the faces of those whom we hold dear. That we may honor that life by carrying on the traditions that he began. By continuing to give the gift of love. By continuing to give the gifts of joy and happiness. To do some small part in making this world of ours a better place than we found it when we got here, in whatever small ways we can in our little corners of it with what little time we have.
And with that in mind may we all, each and every one of us, have the very merriest Christmas we can possibly manage and the happiest and most blessed of new years.
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