Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch

Christmas is a time for remembering the needs of charitable organizations that operate in our communities. Here, Huntington firefighter Chad Hendrick collects money from a passing motorist during the City Mission Kids Christmas Boot Drive on Nov. 26 in Huntington.

Editor’s note: The following editorial was written in 1972 and was reprinted each Christmas Day through 2003.

Once again, Christmas is here.

Once again, families are gathered for the age-old celebration centering on a holiday tree, the exchanging of cards and presents, festive food and all the other trappings that are a traditional part of the holiday for most of us.

What is it about this day that it is able to work such magic?

What is Christmas, anyway?

To fully answer that question, you first have to understand that Christmas isn’t just a single day on the calendar or a mere 24 hours on the clock. This special day is not so easily measured. In truth, Christmas is a season all to itself, a magical time of year.

Christmas is, first of all, a holiday tree and the many delights that go with it.

These days, few of us have either the opportunity or the inclination to venture into the woods, fell an evergreen with our trusty ax (or, for that matter, our trusty chain saw) and drag it back home to decorate. Nevertheless, most homes in our Tri-State community today will display a tree of some sort — be it big or small, lavishly decorated or severely plain, fresh cut or maybe fashioned from plastic in some foreign factory.

Christmas is the exchanging of cards.

Sure, we fuss and fume when addressing them. “This is the last year we’re doing this,’’ we vow. And, granted, it’s been years since you could mail out your cards with 3-cent stamps. But surely, our relief in getting the last few addressed, stamped and mailed is more than matched by our delight in opening and reading those received.

Christmas is, of course, Santa Claus and the giving of holiday presents.

Despite the increasingly crowded skylanes and the growing shortage of chimneys down which to bound, the jolly old elf still seems to make his annual rounds in fine fashion. Alas, Santa no doubt has dropped off more than a few gifts that aren’t exactly what the recipient was hoping he would bring. And more than a few other gifts may be the wrong size or color. But remember, it’s the thought that counts. Besides, the stores will open their exchange counters bright and early tomorrow.

Christmas is, for most of us, sitting down to a tasty holiday meal. Dining room tables will be crowded with food, and we may have to carry in some extra chairs to make sure there’s a place for everybody.

In reality, however, Christmas is much, much more than any of this.

Christmas is taking time to lend a hand to our less fortunate friends and neighbors in order to make sure that they, too, have a happy holiday.

And Christmas is, most of all, a welcome pause in our workaday routine — a pause that not only gives us a chance to relax with our families and friends, but also causes us to ponder the Bible story of what happened in that stable in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

Peace, brotherhood and love — that is what Christmas really means. Or it means nothing at all.

A most merry and blessed Christmas to all.

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