Ben Snowden, 19, one of Santa’s helpers at the Santa on the Square in Marietta, kept warm by playing hacky sack on Dec. 19, 2018. JOHN SPINK/AJC

OPINION: CHRISTMAS 2019, OUR VIEW

Christmas Day. On a holiday that’s a uniquely American blend of secular and sacred, there remains ample reason to give thanks.

In a time when human interaction’s as likely to take place across digital screens as it is to occur face-to-face, we should savor in-person opportunities to renew spirits and ties that, however frayed, yet still bind us together.

A 1944 Christmas Day editorial in this newspaper juxtaposed the religious promise of Christmas with its purpose in what the writer called “a world of sorrow” as a global war raged, and the survival of a free world was at risk.

Our editorial also reflected a sentiment that’s endured across the decades, noting that “This is the day when we hide our fears for a little while, in order that the children shall know all the joys of Christmas and shall be given the blessed memory of unalloyed happiness to carry with them through all life to come.”

America is a more diverse nation today than 75 years ago. And it’s a testament to our root principles that multiple religious and secular traditions largely coexist or, yes, periodically clash along Main Street USA.

That we can argue about the primacy of one or another is itself a blessing and legacy of our nation’s founders and the enduring, evolving and elegant Constitution they bequeathed us. As a result, we have the hard-won, secularly sacred freedom to honor faith and familial traditions pretty much as we wish.

On that same editorial page of 1944, The Atlanta Constitution’s Ralph McGill observed that, “We cannot have peace on earth without good will toward man. The heavenly host stated it very simply. The two go together.”

That observation, too, has withstood time’s test.

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