'Tis the season

'Tis the season to be jolly! Does anyone need reminding of this line from the holiday song? Sometimes it seems so, as pundits of various stripe look for a dark side to the holly wreath.

There is too little commerce for the good of the economy, they say, and too much commercialization for the good of the spirit. Too much hectic activity; too little serene contemplation. Too much self-indulgence; too little self-renewal.

The bill of particulars is a perennial challenge. The counterfeits of the genuine coin are always to be detected and rejected. But . . .

The deepest thoughts about the season's significance - the sharpest alertness to any corruption of it - are not incompatible with the sheer fun of this time of year.

We think of the three generations in a two-family get-together the other night. The grandchildren sitting in a row were supposed to sing the fa-la-la-las in ''Deck the Halls.'' But only absolute silence came out - about three times. At first the giggles were stifled. Then the solemn youngest had to laugh out loud. Then all ages were rolling in hilarity. Everyone was suddenly brought closer. A little fun can do it.

But the fun doesn't depend on festivities. It is as much an attitude as an activity, as accessible to people on their own as in crowd. It is like that cheerfulness which keeps breaking in, as the man said in Britain long ago. Or, as someone else put it, the cheerfulness that ''keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind.''

No one has to wait to have jolliness thrust upon them. 'Tis the season to be jolly.

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