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Same but different

Every year the holidays are the same. And every year they are different.

Regardless of your holiday observation, the end of the year brings traditional practices. Holiday music is playing in public places, people shop for or make gifts to give to friends or family, and we decorate our living spaces with familiar tokens. Like it or not, the calendar we all live by forces us into the mainstream of this shared merriment. The sun aligns, work responsibilities are temporarily stilled, stories are retold, rituals are followed. It is *the holidays.*

The same every year.

You and I, however, are never the same. Maybe there is a child in your life that wasn’t there last year. Or you are in the home you’ve been dreaming of. You are happy at your job. You’re in the best shape of your life, or have fallen in love. Maybe it’s the other way around – you’re in pain or facing a serious medical or psychological challenge. Someone you love is gone forever, and you feel your sad loneliness even when you’re in the company of other people. You are uncertain or unhappy about the direction your life has taken and worried about your future well-being. Or, you could be in the middle of a transition and aren’t feeling particularly up or down. You are patiently in the middle, waiting for something to change, and you’re just not engaged with any of the activity that seems to have taken over everyone’s collective attention.

Last year was a lifetime ago; everything is different this year.

Wherever you are emotionally, physically, psychically, let it be okay. This season is rife with lessons – winning the fight when the odds are against it, miracles, finding refuge just in time, joy, the mere fact that you exist in this unimaginably vast universe giving you agency, hope. You have lived this time of year as an innocent child, a disillusioned adolescent, an emerging adult, a failure at something, a success at something, a cynic, a mirth-maker, an observer, and a participant. Let all the lessons of the season and everything you have learned traveling the winding path of your life so far conspire in full appreciation for the joys and the sorrows that you might face this week.

It is a blessing to be alive with you. I celebrate that.


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