JoeHeloChristmasIt’s that time of year to ask, “What’s the appropriate thing to say?” Merry Christmas! But not everyone is Christian nor to all Christians celebrate Christmas. Happy Hanukkah! Not everyone is Jewish. Happy Kwanza! Not everyone celebrates that, either. Happy Holidays! Someone else is going to be offended by that one, too. It’s becoming a no-win situation.

Well, I for one, do not believe in a no-win situation. I also don’t believe in being too overly critical if someone’s personal beliefs are not perfectly met. I believe in an open heart.

In our country, at least, most people do celebrate Christmas. In my humble opinion it’s okay to wish someone a Merry Christmas, because the wish means more than just a blessing for the Christian holiday. It means “Good Cheer” and “Be Happy” and “Be Blessed” and “Peace to you” and “Love Everyone”. It’s a wish for joy and prosperity to everyone. Everyone, no matter who they are, who they worship, whether or not they worship or what they believe. Good will to all men and women. Period.

By the same token, the same holds true for Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanza and every other seasonal greeting; they are offerings of love and peace. So bring on those seasonal greetings. It doesn’t matter to me which one! I feel the love behind it in my heart. And I want you to feel the love when I wish you Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays!

It’s that time of year to empty your bank accounts to show people how much we love them.   Woo hoo! Look at all those gifts! Look at all those year-end bills! Is that love? Really?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do love presents! I love to give them and I sure do love to get them. But I don’t think we need to prove our love by the volume of gifts or by how expensive they were.

A precious and cherished gift is usually something special, something simple or something handmade. No matter, it is always something from the heart.

We already received an amazing gift this year and it will be cherished always. It was a hand-painted card from a dear friend. It will be framed so that we may enjoy it for years to come.

So don’t go out and make retailers rich. Don’t try to out-buy Aunt Harriet. You don’t even have to give someone a trinket of any kind. Just give a smile, a heart-felt hug and your love. It’s precious.

It’s that time of year when the world falls in love…” begins my favorite Christmas song. And it does seem to be fairly true. The hearts of many soften a little bit. And some people’s hearts soften a lot; just look at the Grinch!

But do our hearts soften enough? Do they soften for all? Religion and the Golden Rule teach us that we should love one another. We learn that we should not judge others. But we do judge and we don’t love everyone.

Far too often, especially these days, we hear that we shouldn’t love that group over there because they don’t look like us. Or because they don’t believe the same things we do. Or that we should shun someone for what they wear. We judge people unfairly and based upon little or no information. We generalize and judge.

That is not what religion teaches us. That is not what a good and true society does. That is not what a person with an open heart will do.

So each of us, let’s try to spread more love within our families, amongst our friends, within our communities and even around the world. And let’s not just do it this time each year. Let’s try to do it every day.

As another of my favorite songs – though it’s not a Christmas song - says, “Come on people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together. Try to love one another right now.”

Thank you for letting me share a few thoughts that have been on my mind this season.

And it’s that time of year to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a wonderful life! May you be blessed and may you love deeply and greatly.

Joe Thornton, Great Conjunction Co-Founder

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