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All you need is love.

— John Lennon

The turkey or ham, the fixings, the beverages and the desserts. The gifts. The wreath on the front door, and the tree decorated in the living room. The festive music. The board games or movies. The family traditions.

The trappings of a modern Christmas can be easily confused with what you really need for Christmas.

Though “All You Need is Love” isn’t a Christmas song, the Beatles captured the spirit of the season when they created and released it in 1967.

Think about it: What else do you really need? If you have love, you have Christmas. If you don’t have it, the holiday rings hollow.

Love, of course, comes in many forms and from many sources.

It can come from your spouse or significant other. It can come from your nuclear or extended family. It can come from a neighbor or friend. It can come from a special pet. Or it can even come from a complete stranger.

It might seem cliche, but needing love means both receiving and giving it. Most who truly understand the meaning of Christmas will tell you that it lies in the giving, not the receiving.

The giving can be personal, and often is at Christmastime. A well-conceived gift given to a loved one can bring joy to the heart.

But a broader conveyance of love can be just as meaningful, just as heartwarming to both the benefactor and the beneficiary.

The anonymous person who dropped the gold coin worth about $1,500 into a Salvation Army red kettle in Elwood last week clearly understood this. So too did all of those shoppers who paused for a moment to dig into their wallets and purses to drop change into red kettles this holiday season.

They felt better when they walked away. They felt loved, and someone ultimately benefited from their small token of kindness.

“All You Need is Love,” was the Beatles’ attempt to create a song that could be understood by all the people of Earth. John Lennon hit the mark when he wrote the lyrics to promote love and peace.

It’s a simple message, much like “goodwill to all.”

It’s the message of Christmas.

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