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A couple days from now, many of us will be gathered with family, ripping open gifts, dining on a large spread of food, watching ďItís a Wonderful LifeĒ or another classic Christmas film for the 20th time, or engaging in a holiday tradition, such as driving through neighborhoods to gaze at decorated homes.

Yes, Christmas is nearly upon us and, for some, it might seem to have come out of nowhere. This time of year can be cheerful for many, sullen for some and reflective for others. We are a little over a week away from beginning to think about those pesky New Yearís resolutions that some of us try each year and either have some degree of success or give up on entirely within a week or two.

But, next week, most of us will be celebrating the Christmas holiday. Children will be out of school, many college students will be home from their respective campuses and families will be traveling, which, of course, leads to roadways seeing increases in traffic and traffic hazards. AAA Mid-Atlantic is predicting nearly 2 million Marylanders will be traveling 50 miles or more during the holiday season between Dec. 22 and Jan. 1. While severe winter weather may not be a factor in these upcoming days, other factors will. Drivers and pedestrians should take measures to avoid becoming an accident statistic during these heavily traveled days. Pay attention, be patient and, of course, donít get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you have had too much to drink. Our local law enforcement officials have repeated to us that, as with any major holiday, they will be out in force seeking out impaired drivers. Thatís another statistic in which you donít want to be included.

By being courteous and safe on the roads, we can hopefully ensure this Christmas does not become the holiday where we lost a loved one due to an avoidable accident. Enjoy this holiday season. Merry Christmas to you and your family.