CHRISTMAS is almost upon us and it is important to stand still and reflect on what it means to us personally and as a community.
It is easy to get carried away and indulge in excess, but this year especially the onus is on us all to keep the real spirit of Christmas true.
For many of us 2012 has been a year where belts have had to be tightened and money has become more scarce, so it is somewhat apt to bypass the commercialism that bombards us at this time of year and remember the origin of this feast day.
Instead of engaging in frantic last-minute shopping, spend the most valuable currency you possess - your time - well. Reach out to those in your family and circle of friends and enjoy their company. Create humour and goodwill in your home. Remember that for many Christmas is tinged with sadness. The sense of community that is so strong in this city and county should be nourished, and keep an eye out for people for whom Christmas might be lonely.
Gather together in goodwill and extend the hand of friendship freely and welcome people into your hearts and homes. Talk, laugh and converse not only with your nearest and dearest but with all you come in contact with. Time passes quickly and before we know it January will be upon us, so make sure to enjoy the holidays as best you can.
Christ told us that it is in giving that you receive. Give your time, share your stories and show the people in your life what they mean to you. One does not need lavish gifts or indeed any gifts to do this just an open mind and a patient heart.
And as families reconnect and old friends gather cherish the moments - savour the memories and be inclusive of all. Sit around the kitchen table and spend that time you still have wisely. And be patient for none of us is perfect.
And for those of us with special little people in our lives soak up the magic as Santa Claus continues his journey from the North Pole. Let the child in you live as our children wait in anticipation for Christmas morning.
It is a well worn cliche but the best things in life are free so if even for a few days you can escape the pressures of modern life - do.
Call into your neighbours, smile at passerbys and make sure that you are rested and relaxed come Christmas Day. Thankfully despite the tough times, the vast majority of us will have a roof over our heads and some food on the table. And many of us still enjoy our health and have people in our lives to love. Now that is a real reason to celebrate.
The staff at the Kilkenny People would like to wish all our readers a peaceful and joyful Christmas and a very happy New Year.