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With less than two weeks before Christmas, how y’all doing? Most of us know that the holiday season often brings some unwelcome guests — namely stress and depression. (More about your guests later.)

I have learned the hard way (we all learn that way, right?) that we can choose to make the Christmas holidays hassle-free or do things in a frantic hurry. Nowadays, I choose the former.

Here is a little check list to take your holiday temperature:

Did you shop till you dropped — or did the easy-peasy thing and ordered from Amazon?

Are you planning your holiday meals around the ever-growing dietary needs of your guests — or are you of the “eat it or leave it” mindset?

Did you finish decorating the day after Halloween — or are the boxes that hold your cherished ornaments still in the basement?

Christmas card writing has gone the way of the typewriter. But, perhaps, you’re still laboriously writing one card at a time — when you have a moment, that is.

I have a new one for you … and me: I call it the “holiday guest anxiety.” It’s not the menu, or the deceitful regifting practices. We may be panicky because our guest list include Trumpers and never-Trumpers, a combustible combination.

We are living in divisive times; the line is drawn in the sand between the two parties. There is no easy way around this one, unless you can create an invisible “no politics” wall at your holiday party. (No pun intended.)

How sad, really, that things on both sides of the aisle (or Christmas table), have disintegrated to such a degree that folks are perpetually full of angst. Families, friends and neighbors are so divided that many have stopped communicating.

Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s political consultant and husband George Conway are at odds over their political differences. Geez! I wonder if they can turn it off and sleep in the same bed!

I know of a family who will not be spending Christmas together, again. I wrote about this heartbreaking situation last year — and it’s still going on, folks! Neither side will call a truce. The fabric of this family has been further ripped apart and discarded like a worn holiday tablecloth.

I have learned over the last three years (the hard way, again) to keep my tongue in check. I will argue my case. But when I see that it’s a no-win issue, I suggest that it’s OK to agree to disagree. And most times life goes on, peacefully.

But what is not OK is the air of intolerance, meanness, and downright malevolent behavior that is permeating our country. Just turn on your favorite cable TV station. Listening to the talking heads has become cringeworthy. Rhetoric is so amped-up It’s hard to follow the bouncing ball of “breaking news.”

We may find ourselves arguing over the ever-changing talking points with our partners, spouse, co-workers, friends, strangers and on social media. Speaking of which, social media is a Mecca for misinformation. Yet, folks on both sides believe what they are reading is the gospel truth.

When did civil discourse fall out of vogue? When did rudeness replace enlightened conversation? When did lying for personal gain replace telling the truth? When did downright name-calling and flinging insults replace respect?

This is not a Republican or Democratic conundrum, it’s a breakdown of society, don’t you think? We seem to have acquired a high tolerance for rudeness and debasement.

The political temperature is over the boiling point and burning innocent onlookers. We have morphed into angry, ugly Americans. We give airtime to those who perpetuate the distasteful “in your face politics.” If your kids were exhibiting this behavior, would it be tolerated?

We need to push back — and push back hard — by demanding kindness and civility. We all need to do our part to make our country and communities more kind. We need to hold ourselves to higher standards that represent the best in humankind.

Folks, the loftiest form of wisdom is kindness. It is the Christmas season, a time that speaks to good will toward all humanity. If you can give only one gift, let it be kindness.

I know, I know, it seems like we live in an unkind world. But wait…

Leading British journalist Ron Hall writes: “Together we can change the world with one random act of kindness at a time.” I feel we can pull this off or is my idealistic self out of touch with reality?

Folks, can we set aside our differences and just be Americans? Can we strive to bring peace and live in harmony especially during this Christmas season, regardless of one’s political affiliation?

The way to make America great again is to make America kind again.

Can you do your part? Will you?

Faithful readers: I wish you the peace that passes all understanding this holiday season and always.

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Celia Marszal-Iannelli
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.