The holiday season is a reprieve from the hustle and bustle. It is like hitting a pause, although perhaps it feels more like a flash-forward.

This year was a great year for me. I graduated from college, I got my job at Ridgeview, and I got married. There are many who are celebrating life this year: newborns, recoveries, weddings, and other accomplishments. This holiday season will bring new people and new traditions together.

I also know many for whom this year was rough. People have passed and people have begun to forget everything; people have done terrible things or suffered terrible things; people have struggled and watched loved ones struggle.

There will be empty seats this year, some of which we might have anticipated. We might have cemented the memory of a grandparent’s last Christmas. Other empty seats, we never could have or would have foreseen. There has been tragedy and loss this year, both beyond measure.

There will be truly happy hearts as well as melancholy souls. Some people will be touched with a combination, smiling sincerely with tears in their eyes. We must recognize each of these feelings as part of the universal human experience, and welcome all at our celebrations.

After all, the holidays are a time to be together, to help each other look beyond the momentary happiness or sadness and find an underlying joy. May we all find that joy this season, a joy that will refresh after a long year and sustain us through another.

Good tidings and Happy New Year!

Posted by Michaela Koretko-Stephens