Before I get started, allow me to preface this column by saying ... Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends. Happy Chanukah to all my Jewish friends. A joyous and meaningful Eid to my Muslim friends. And a hearty Good Luck to all my atheist friends. Whatever your holiday may or may not be at or near this time of year, I offer my best wishes for a season of cheer, compassion, and peace. I\u2019m done with the \u201cWar On Christmas\u201d stuff. I\u2019m not going to let the paranoid fear-mongers ruin my holiday season. Now then \u2026 here we are \u2026 full in the Christmas holiday season. It\u2019s Christmas time. I love this time of year. I am not going to pontificate on how crass and commercial we\u2019ve become - although I really do think we, as Americans, have taken things to excess as we seem to do with most everything we lay our hands to. The fact of life is I enjoy the trappings of Christmas. I enjoy the lights and the tinsel. In enjoy the sights and sound. I enjoy the general brouhaha. I love it. I loved it as a kid. I loved it while living in Israel I love all the fluff and fancy still. But there is a danger in all this \u201cstuff\u201d that surrounds the Christmas holiday season. I think we lose a balanced sense of proportion. It\u2019s obvious that in the hubbub, we miss out on what I think are some important points - the message within the \u201cold, old story.\u201d I believe the Christmas story is a lesson in the joy of silence. Thomas Merton, one of my literary and philisophical heroes wrote: \u201cIt is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them\u2026. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.\u201d Silence. What does the Christmas story teach us about being quiet? About making time even and especially at this season to simply be quiet? The REAL heroes and heroines in the Christmas story were people who kept their heads about them and moved through their world - and ours - in calm, in peace, and with a sense of tranquility all in the face of tremendous uproar. Christmas teaches us there\u2019s a really beneficial quality to not always blabbering everything that pops into your noggin \u2014 to being quiet for a few moments. The silence of strength. The silence of virtue. The silence of rectitude - that inner fortitude so lacking in our modern world. Consider Mary \u2026 What a heroic young lady. She must have put up with so much. She wanders through this story in peace and calm and humility. And what a story. If you really look at the Nativity story carefully, and if you read it realistically leaving out the \u201cSilent Night\u201d traditions, and the \u201cOh Little Town of Bethemlem\u201d stuff this is a incredibly noisy story. There is noise and blare surrounding Mary every waking hour \u2026 First, imagine the castigation of her family \u2026 and his \u2026 and the neighbors \u2026 Then, just as she goes into labor, (in a barn!), there are angels swirling about praising God and scaring the wits out of a group of shepherds. This girl barely gives birth and manages to get her baby settled down when these same shepherds come strolling through the barn saying: \u201cWhere\u2019s the baby. We wanna see the baby.\u201d It\u2019s incredible. It\u2019s frantic. Doors opening and shutting. People exchanging stories talking about the angels. Guys trying to outdo each other with their tales. What a mess. Read the story for yourselves. It\u2019s noisy. With all of this going on \u2026 Mary maintained a meditative calm. She \u201c... treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.\u201d Can we be quiet and really learn to treasure the important things in our lives at this season? We should. Merton in one of his works wrote: \u201cTry to be quiet whenever possible. And it\u2019s always possible.\u201d With all the mess and muddle; with the chaos and confusion; with the traveling here and hurrying there; with all the \u201cDid we remember to get something for \u2026 whoever\u201d; with all of this \u2026 Do we remember that this is inherently a Season of Silence. A time to tuck away all things - as did Mary - in silence. A time to do what needs to be done - not what the world says needs to be done, but what REALLY needs to be done. A time to do the right thing - in silence. A time to learn to be quiet and calm. Because that is the Spirit of Christmas \u2014 a spirit of calm, a spirit of stillness, a spirit of peacefulness. That is what this season is all about. Mary knew it.