John Winthrop, Massachusetts's first governor spoke to his people before they disembarked in their new land:
We must delight in each other, make others' conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our community as members of the same body.
Two hundred years later, visiting Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville, impressed by our individualism and yet unsettled, warned: Unless our individualism was continually and strongly balanced by other habits, it would inevitably lead to fragmentation of American society and social isolation of its citizens.
And, of course, a couple thousand years ago, the man whose birth we celebrate this season, told us:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Keep your eyes open for the little things you can do this season to make things easier on others. You have no idea what they are up against this season (and it may be awful) but you can do all you can not to make things worse for them. You can provide a grace note in a stressful day with a warm smile, a door held open, a suggestion of where they might find what they are looking for if you happen to know, a soothing word in a long line at the checkout reminding folks that whatever line they happen to jump to will suddenly become the slowest line of all and they might as well stay put (use humor when you can to ease tensions ... I used this one and it helped the woman with the fraying temper in front of me immensely).
Be a blessing to others this season. Spread a little Christmas joy and help knit an unraveling community back together as you love your neighbor (anyone you can help, in case you are wondering who that neighbor is) as yourself.
Merry Christmas to you all.