The holidays are coming, but what exactly is a holiday? Holidays are a day or time period set aside by law or statute as exempt from regular labor or business activities, usually to commemorate or celebrate something that happened on or near that date.

Holidays, however, are also holy days, sacred or sacramental time within ordinary time. We come apart from the regularly scheduled labors to sustain our lifestyle. We now participate in the ritual celebrations and practices that make time special and unique; we celebrate life.

Most people can remember childhood memories of the magic of the seasons; parents prepared food and gifts and were in charge of observances and dedicated clothing or colors. Everyone respected the traditions and heritages that expressed a particular people’s faith and beliefs. It was not conformity that united us, it was the spirit.

Spirit gives life and imbues restoration, community and harmony. Humanity and nature join in together in recognizing something amazing has changed everything. Holy days make us pause, reflect and transform.

It is simple to see the barriers to harmony and community, the disparity in income, the deadlock in politics, the assault upon the senses by both nature and technology, and feel despair or disenchantment. Making magic for others takes time and the ability to give beyond ourselves. But that is the power of the holy days (holidays) to transform our myopic survival concerns to care for others, strangers, returning veterans and neighbors. It is no coincidence that the holy days (holidays) are the most charitably profitable times for organizations involved with care of the indigent and powerless.

This year, let us lose ourselves in the power of the holidays and be transformed back into the wide-eyed innocence that believes in miracles and accepts the possibility of tomorrow. It really is a wonderful life!

James A. WeathersbyAugusta