Merry Christmas!

We've had the annual Christmas parade and tree lighting in Bel Air and the similar Christmas Street and parade celebrations in Aberdeen and Havre de Grace, which drew their usual hardy crowds seeking early December doses of holiday cheer.

Festivals of trees, holiday bazaars, athletic events with Christmas themes, greens sales and open houses have been so numerous in Harford County that it would be all but impossible for a single person to attend them all. Perryville and Port Deposit similarly have seen their traditional crowds for a slew of holiday events.

Breakfast with Santa has been served so many times over the past few weekends in these parts that there's no reason to fear the big man will be losing any of his jolliness this year.

And this is one of those years when Christmas and Hanukkah overlap. Though both are celebrated by peoples who trace their religious traditions to Abraham, Moses and the other patriarchs, the two celebrations have relatively little in common. Both are, however, festive and, at least in modern times for Christmas, heavy on the theme of light.

This weekend brings Christmas, the day all these activities have been building toward. For many of us, Christmas morning means family time exchanging gifts, often followed by attending worship services and, possibly, an afternoon of visiting and an evening feast.

This year, the Christian observance coincides with the sixth night of Hanukkah, a festive and family-oriented holiday as well.

All in all, this Sunday will be a big day, but one that should be a good deal less frantic than the many leading to it. This shouldn't make it seem anticlimactic, but rather peaceful, which is very much in keeping with the holiday's greater meaning.

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