The coming of the holidays and what they bring each year is as predictable as sunrise and sunset. For Christmas it’s easy: Buy a tree and trim it right, hang the sparkly lights and make sure to get the glittery wintery scenery cards in the mail on time. On each card properly note which ones get “Love, St. Nick” and which will read “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas” — lest someone is offended on Dec. 25.

It’s a strange thing to be under the spell of obligation and sincerity, to give to those we love some pots and pans and maybe some gloves and nice lotion for hands, etc. The special ones might get some homemade art, but the ones who don’t appreciate it are missing the whole point of “from the bottom of my heart.” Others will nosh on the proverbial bones they got — a gift from others or for the self — because if you don’t participate in some consumer way, the spirit of Christmas, a time to give and receive, may just die off and it appears very few want that.

Starting right after the Thanksgiving turkey is wrapped up and put in storage containers, Christmas movies pop up on all the network channels, from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation to some rendition of old Ebenezer Scrooge. Earlier this week, Disney’s computer animated A Christmas Carol came on. Near the end of the movie, Scrooge is seen fre- falling down a cavern to hell where his coffin appears and he shouts out in a panic to the foreboding Death:

May I have a second chance to sponge away the writing on that stone?

Death does not answer and Scrooge falls quickly to his grave and for some viewers, there is a hard thud in the heart. What would my grave marker say? What did I do that was so wrong? Why is this happening? Well, that thud hits particularly hard if you are an Ebenezer Scrooge. For others, it’s obvious we are treating each other poorly and we just don’t know how to stop. But the truth is, we can elevate each other up no matter the position or title, parent or child, teacher or student, throughout the whole year.

As an old man, Scrooge was certain he had it made, the so-called good life with money stashed away — but at what cost? It wasn’t until Death knocked on his door that he saw the bigger picture, that whatever was on his grave stone, however he was to be remembered, truly pained him.

A few scenes forward after this great revelation, there Ebenezer goes! So excited his life has begun again! And he’s going for it with glee even though it’s just a little bit at a time. He’s not dumping everything he has out of guilt or fear. He gives the first kid he sees a shiny coin — a good way to start his new life and a new year.

That is the Christmas miracle. Being generous from the heart — as much as is comfortable, plus enjoying the beautiful music, the fun decorations and good cheer. Why can’t it last all year? The heart feels so alive and warm! And then something happens. The New Year comes quickly as well as those obligations for change so that this time next year it will be better somehow. And that potential of betterment feels as if it’s a Lotto ticket — when will I win? In reality, we set ourselves up with a heavy obligation right at the beginning of the year and then many of us fall down the barrel of futility and redundancy. But thank goodness for the holidays, because without them, we would just be on an endless treadmill to work and consume and hopefully things will be better this time next year.

And so it goes, this Christmas time. But there is hope that the Ebenezer Scrooges will see themselves for who they are and how they appear to the world and aim for change for goodness all year. No matter the pain, the hurt, the injustice or fear we experience, choose generosity, happiness and positive connections — to know this and act on it, that’s a true gift. Just remember, keep your chin up!

To all this Dec. 25, have a wonderful . . . well, have some wonderful time off. For those who have to work, we thank you for your service to those who don’t.

For the coming of the New Year, let’s think about what are reasonable achievable expectations. Perhaps 2019 is to be more like the enlightened Scrooge. For those who have something in mind, send us your New Year’s resolutions and for those who want to share with our readers, we will reserve some room in the last issue of the year. So put some thought into it and if you care to share, email