It's been another of those staggeringly contentious years. There have been others the equal of this one, but not many we are pleased to remember. Life's been a little slushy, a little drizzly at times, a mess at others. It's not been all bad, of course, but we'd like to euthanize 2006 with a decorative white appliqué and a swelling of good will. It's a characteristic ambition of this season, at least of the part of it with which we struggle, dazed, to get to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, to want to have it all over.
The good and the bad, the wishes fulfilled and those dashed, the happy and the tragic, all are amplified by Christmas, all touch us somewhere, and the stunning mix carries us deep into Christmas.
Death has claimed some of the best of us, many of the youngest and bravest on foreign soil, some of the cheeriest and most inspirational here at home. Illness has flattened some of the good ones we depend on and sparked us to reconsider the currents that sweep away neighbors, and the fair winds most of us nevertheless enjoy.
For the heart, this is the piercing moment of the year. Forget the glitter and the shopping and overworn imagery. The ancient magic of Christmas will, as it ever has, descale us and expose our lives to life itself.
Although this season especially brings the stew of existence to the boil, newspapers by nature are carried along daily in the tide of human events: births, deaths, tragedies, triumphs, fire, flood, politics, arguments, crabbiness, euphoria. We are exposed to it all. It's the job, and thanks to you, a terrific job to have.
So this is the moment, with Christmas Eve just days away, to remember what's lost, to marvel at our good fortune, and to wish all of you - readers, customers, newsmakers, neighbors, friends, critics - the merriest of Christmases.