December 25, 2013 12:00 AM

Pause and embrace the true meaning of Christmas

What would you say if you had to explain Christmas to someone who knew nothing about it? You might begin with the shepherds in the fields by night or Santa at the North Pole or even the druidic appeal of a winter festival that comes just when the sun seems most meager. Redemption and rejoicing, feasting and singing, humility and awe — these would all be parts of your answer, as would the perennial cast of characters who people this turning time of year. The personal explanations would come easiest: The rituals of Christmas Eve, the smell of fresh balsam, the stillness of a world cloaked in snow. You would probably have something to say about the importance of family and the force of a holiday whose strongest emotions center upon children, and upon our memories of being children.

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