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The moon is seen through Christmas decorations at the corner of Market Street and Third Street in downtown Chattanooga.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Feliz Navidad, Seasons Greetings, Good Cheer. ...

It's Christmas, and using any one of those salutations cannot diminish another.

Indeed, they all deepen our joy and our faith.

The spirit of the season — no matter your favorite name for it — is a gift of sentimental memory, love and ever-returning hope in a new day.

Sure we get caught up in the retail rush and frantic scheduling, but there's no denying that in part we do the crazy stuff for the few precious moments of peace and love we seek at Christmas.

Don't we always hope for peace? Yes, most of us do. Does good will have to have a season? Certainly not.

The one thing Christmas gives us is an understanding, even if for just a few moments, that when we genuinely love and hold one another in our hearts, simply declaring that love —for each other, our world and this season — is far more eloquent than any other gift that we could give or receive.

We love the concept of Christmas — the time of hope and love and peace — even when we don't always understand how to act it out.

Is that not, after all, why we love that cranky old Scrooge who embodies our hateful, shattered world, but in one night is made whole by realization, repentance and love?

All any of us really want for Christmas, after all, is to love and know we are loved. We want to believe in a world that lives up to the purity of love and good will — a world that accepts Santas of any color, a world that understands the faith we harbor in our hearts, no matter its flavor, is neither superior nor inferior.

Just as it is our choice what we buy or reject in those brightly lit stores with jingle bell songs, so is it our freedom and choice what faith we follow, what Christmas tradition we observe and how we share it.

No matter our religions, our religious holidays make homage to a common humanity and maker. And they help us understand that although the world is complicated, it also is simple. We all have the profound essence of faith, the power of prayer and the values of peace and goodwill.

That's why this time of year is so very special. It is really about more than our imaginings, prophets and saviors.

Christmas is about a spirit — a feeling of oneness and reverence; a time of family, friends, laughter and good food; an opportunity to reflect, find redemption, worship, seek solace, love and feel loved.

Christmas is what we make it, based on our beliefs and based on our hearts. It is a promise we can make with ourselves for a day and tomorrow and a new day after that.

Peace on earth, good will to all.

The message is divine, but it requires our own human effort.

Every day.

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