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Originally published Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 4:08 PM

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Making 2014 merry and bright

Merry Christmas and happy new year. Both greetings still apply, writes columnist Lance Dickie. Resolve to help others have a good year in a healthy, prosperous Washington.

Times editorial columnist

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And a sort-of Yule log to you too, Lance Dickie. Bad, bad (read GOOD) bilingual pun! ... MORE
@plainsman: Evidently, the Christmas spirit embodied in this article missed your house... MORE
Ho, ho ,ho. No one cares what you think, lance dickey. Get a job! MORE


Merry Christmas. Really.

As the carol reminds us, there are 12 days of Christmas, so the lights can stay up until Sunday. An extra gift and those leftover cookies — if they exist — can be shared on Monday, Jan. 6.

It the continuation of Christmas comes as an epiphany for some, all the better. Nothing like the arrival of the Three Wise Men to alert the world to the meaning of that baby in the manger.

The holiday continues. Not the holiday that began roughly 120 days ago with those ubiquitous shopping imperatives sometime after, oh, Labor Day.

If you feel the holiday is hijacked a bit more each year by ever more assertive and vulgar sales contrivances, the best way to protest is with a tenacious Christmas spirit.

Think about the questions asked by another familiar carol for the past 150 years or so: What great brightness did you see? What glad tidings did you hear?

Please share them with me. How is this Christmas special from the others in your life?

The opportunity and challenge that is renewed each Christmas is to help people who walk in darkness to see a bright light. The unnerving revelation, of course, is that you can be that bright light.

Make 2014 the year to increase volunteer activities. Trust me, I am pointedly talking to myself as well.

Financial support for all manner of charities is vital. Volunteers are key, but people struggling to survive and restart their lives and protect their families need lifesaving help every day, not when it fits our personal schedules and mood.

In the spirit of the season, I want to offer an apology to James and Della Young, and make a correction.

Several holidays past I wrote of the Dillinghams in O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” Reading the story is a Christmas Eve tradition in our family. Preparation includes picking another reader to take over when Dad starts to snuffle and choke up, despite pre-emptory cautions of “No blubbering!”

I mentioned the Dillinghams, but that is, of course, Jim’s middle name, not his last. The story of selfless love and sacrifice is the essence of the season.

Yes, the holiday can be exhausting. Many are, to borrow from the French, sorta, Bushed de Noel. The New Year is embraced as a moment to pause and imagine what might be done differently, at least for a few days or weeks.

Blend the spirit of Christmas and a sustained New Year’s resolve to help others. Opportunities abound. Volunteering often means willing hands and a willing spirit. No special skills required. Showing up is a start.

Looking ahead, I hope the 2014 session of the Washington Legislature is a bright light for the state.

I would like to see lawmakers promote peace on Earth with legislation to broaden background checks for all gun sales. A basic public-safety issue.

The to-do list for legislators is long, but passage of a comprehensive transportation package has to be near the top. Support road and transit improvements that get farm products to markets, all manner of goods to ports and keep commuter traffic humming.

Bus service is elemental to a healthy economy in Puget Sound and the region needs local options to help move millions of transit riders through a new year and beyond.

Merry Christmas and happy new year. Two timely wishes for all.

Lance Dickie’s column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His email address is

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