When I sat down to write, I fully intended for this blog to be about Christmas traditions. I wanted to share some of mine with you and ask you to let me in on yours. However, when I considered today’s prompt, the word “cherish”, my writing took an entirely different turn.
This time of year can be difficult for some. That group once included myself. In fact, I used to be known as quite a Christmas scrooge. As soon as the decorations would start to go up, I would get grumpy and depressed, and I would try to hide myself away as much as possible. I tended to make those near and dear to me slightly insane. Thankfully, like Dickens’ Scrooge, I finally saw the light and have come to cherish this time of year. The older I get, the more I find to love about it.
Thanksgiving to New Years is a magical time. If you open your eyes and really look around you, not only will you notice fellow humans in need, but you will also witness the kindness of strangers. If you open your heart as well, you will find that it is exceedingly rewarding to give of yourself to others.
Maybe your gift is to listen and offer comfort to someone having a difficult time. It doesn’t take much. Sitting at a slot machine a week or so ago, I struck up a conversation with a woman who confided in me that she had escaped to Vegas alone because she couldn’t handle her bickering relatives and the drama going on at home. I could definitely relate to part of her story, and it eased her frustration to be able to discuss the situation with me. It made her feel even better when I asked for her name and told her that I would include her and her family in my prayers. I truly believe she left Vegas feeling more hopeful about the holidays. Our conversation may have only lasted ten minutes, but it raised both our spirits.
Maybe it makes you feel good to donate financially, whether you drop a handful of change into the Salvation Army kettle on your way out of the grocery store or you help a struggling friend provide presents for his or her kids. You don’t have to be rich, and you don’t have to give a huge sum. When enough people give, it adds up fast.
Other things you can contribute are your time and your talents. It is amazing the difference you can make. You can volunteer to feed the homeless. You can send gift baskets to soldiers serving overseas. Perhaps you aren’t necessarily a people person; there are animals waiting at shelters for someone to adopt them who would love to be walked, groomed, and cuddled. You might assist at your church. Last night I went to midnight mass and was in awe at the number of individuals who gave of themselves so others could be served. They greeted guests, handed out bulletins, sang in the choir, served Communion, etc. Pulling off a church service for hundreds of attendees is no small feat.
My point is that there is a lot of joy to be found this time of year. Maybe you have your fair share of struggles and want nothing more than to say “Bah Humbug!”, but I have learned from experience that giving joy to someone else is like a boomerang. It comes back to fulfill you in the end. So while the lights and decorations are certainly beautiful, I believe that the most breathtaking thing to see is the humanity. My hope is that you will experience it for yourself and cherish every moment.