The wonder of snowflakes is they look so much alike, yet of the trillions that fall, no two are the same.
That is also the wonder of Christmas.
Each year — thanks to family and cultural traditions — Christmas looks wonderfully familiar. We have the Macy's Parade, the lighting of Temple Square, the well-known carols sung by well-known singers. In some families, traditions even lead to kids hanging their stockings in the same place each year and opening their Christmas morning presents in exactly the same order.
But underneath, each Christmas is different from all the rest. There are always little flourishes, embellishments and changing times that give each yule its own unique personality.
This year, the economy has played a major role in Christmas. So have the war and the election. On a personal level, some people are no longer with some of us who were here last year. And by the same token, some "new" people have arrived to join us for their first Christmas on earth. Children who were single last year are now married. Grandparents who were working are now retired. And parents at times will have another house now, another job, another path to follow.
Still, the lessons of Christmas remain. The carol of the angels wishing peace on earth and goodwill to all reverberates each turn of the season with newfound freshness. The feelings of gratitude and hope rise inside of us each year, as fresh as newly baked bread.
And the wonder of the snowflakes and of Christmas itself teaches us, again, a lesson about life.
Like those amazing snowflakes, people — too — are much alike, with the same joys and longings. We need to see those similarities and bond with them to build strong relationships and communities.
Yet no two people are ever truly alike. Some have different hobbies, different jobs, different backgrounds, different skin color. Learning to blend together where we are similar and show respect, understanding and even curiosity where we are not is a skill that can lead to a better world.
In short, each Christmas gives us a lesson in how to love. And every 12 months Christmas returns to give us a refresher course.
Here's hoping that — this year — we will all prove to be good students.