If you work for a newspaper, either gathering ads or stories and photos, you drive around a lot. This is a fun time to do it, what with all the holiday displays and decorations on homes and businesses.
Polk County literally lights up during December.
What strikes us is how the holiday spirit can be seen everywhere -- from the grandest mansion to the humblest apartment window. Throughout the year, we all go about our separate lives with our separate concerns.
For a few weeks out of the year, however, we all share a common experience. Our thoughts turn to common values of love, friendship and family. It transcends the separateness of our lives, our incomes, our backgrounds and our lifestyles.
Even our faiths.
Most people, regardless of how they choose to worship, celebrate some kind of winter festival. It goes by names other than Christmas. Jewish families, of course, celebrate Hanukkah while some African-Americans observe Kwanza. Christmas predominates around here.
The common theme is love -- love for each other, our families and our creator.
There are constant reminders throughout the year of the things that divide us. Most of the differences are petty. Focusing on them demeans us all.
This is the time of year to remind ourselves of the common spiritual values that bind us together as a human family.
Newspapers see people at their best and at their worst. Reporters have a reputation for getting cynical as they watch the parade of human events.
We see the nastiness. We see people shun the better angels of their nature and give in to selfishness, fear, intolerance and ignorance.
Ignorance is the worst. It is the brute that threatens to drag us back into the cave.
However, we also see countless acts of courage, love and kindness that must also be added to humanity's account. Most of us watching have come to believe that human beings are essentially good.
Liberal or conservative, Christian or agnostic, people generally want what is best for their communities and the world at large. The conflicts, when examined closely, usually are about the means rather than the ends.
Let's remember that this holiday season and throughout the year when our passions would have us raise our voices in angry opposition. We all basically want the same thing.
After some 2,000 years, those basic ends remain the same. "On earth peace, goodwill toward men."
This week's paper celebrates the best of the human spirit, shining brightly throughout our little area of the world. We wish all of our readers and the humanity we all share the very happiest of holidays.