CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- The holidays are good for you. And surely, you can be good for the holidays, too.
''People aspire to be better, and setting aside specific days to celebrate certain ideals encourages people to keep reaching,'' observes Kelly Smith, philosophy professor at Clemson University who studies spiritual issues.
A day for thanks, a day for love, and a day to celebrate goodwill are reminders of the importance of these ideals, he says.
''It would be nice if everyone was kind to each other 365 days a year, but that's unrealistic. Everyone should, but no one could pull it off. That's why the holidays are important. They're used to further mankind's valuable moral principles and hopefully motivate the populace to help each other all year long.''
There is at least one other positive aspect, he says: R&R. ''People need the time off to relax, to enjoy their lives, and get away from the trials of work. People need an excuse to cheer up.''
The emphasis on giving gifts might be seen as detracting from the spirit of the holidays, but Smith says this tradition is a valuable part of it. ''A gift designed to help someone else in a wonderful thing.''
He suggests trying the Jewish tradition of giving gifts anonymously, or giving gifts that are truly needed.
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