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Enjoy loved ones this holiday season

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Feliz Navidad! Happy Kwanzaa! (After my husband read this in the print edition, he reminded me I forgot to wish you a Happy Festivus!)

Whatever you celebrate, in whatever language you say it, I hope it’s a joyful time of year.

I realize that, as a nation, we recently endured a tragic event. It affected not only the community of Newtown, Conn., but the entire country. I think it was particularly heart-wrenching for anyone with children. Even my daughter called me to talk about it. She has a 4-year-old who attends preschool. “Mom, that could have been Emily’s school,” she said, her voice trembling at the very thought.

I’ve always had trouble watching movies or TV shows that dramatize children being kidnapped or abused in some way. Like my daughter, I always thought, “That could be my child.”

Of course, an event of that magnitude stirs up debate about gun control. I believe a more productive discussion would be how to better treat mental illness. There’s little doubt that the shooter suffered some sort of mental breakdown.

Beyond that cursory assessment, I have no answers. Solutions are better left to the professionals who treat mental illness.

In the meantime, let’s not worry about what we received or gave as gifts for the holidays. Let’s not stress over the perfect dinner. Let’s be thankful for what we can afford, and the real gift of the holidays – time spent with our loved ones.

Enjoy their company. Laugh with them. Hug them. Tell them you love them as often as possible.

Even the most sullen, moody teenager needs to hear it. In reality, they probably need to hear it most of all.

And when you need a quiet moment amid the hustle and bustle, relax and read our cover story about some local men who gave of themselves to help those affected by Super Storm Sandy. In giving, they received blessings.

From all of us here at the Valley Free Press, have a wonderful holiday!

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