Sunday, December 24, 2006

What You Can Do for Them This Christmas

Simple things. They can mean a lot.

There is so much talk about the meaning of Christmas, and I won't presume to tell you what the definitive answer is. I think it's fairly self-evident by the name; how you react to that is your choice.

There's also a lot of talk about the spirit of Christmas. Well, what does that mean? I think that what you say about the spirit of Christmas is insignificant when compared with what you do.

In other words, walk what you talk.

If you feel that it's about giving, then give. Without expecting anything back; that is the essential nature of a gift. Exchanging gifts can be lovely.... but not if it's merely barter and maintaining expectations and appearances.

If you feel that it's good will and peace towards mankind, wonderful! Do something to help foster it. Make peace with your life, create good will towards men. No, you can't change the whole world. But you can change yours. You can also change a moment of someone else's world by choosing to be kind and compassionate, instead of angry.... or indifferent.

If you feel that Christmas is about faith and hope, then don't let anything tarnish the ebullience of its light. Faith doesn't care what other people will think; hope doesn't see things the way they are. Hope sees things as they could be. Both faith and hope must be shared in order to matter.

If you feel that it's about love, then honor it. Act lovingly. Tell people, unashamedly, that you love them. Most of all, never confine love to special occasions like Christmas; living a life of love is daily work. However, once you get the hang of it, it doesn't seem like work at all.

If you think that it's about sharing, then do. But not just on December 25th or other special occasions. People have needs, material and emotional, every day of the year. It doesn't have to be grand or large; tiny little things, one at a time, can add up to have a tremendous impact.

If you are sure that it's about caring, then spread that care around, every day of the year. Especially don't forget about people who seem to have "fallen by the wayside" in your life. Ask yourself why? Reach out, take the initiative, and don't make caring conditional. Please, don't neglect people in your life who are sick, elderly, disabled, or perhaps dying. As incredible as it seems, people tend to disappear from such peoples lives just when they're needed the most.

If you're not sure what the spirit of Christmas is, or ought to be, then you're not alone. If that's the case, spend some quiet time, even just a few minutes, this December 25th to ask yourself what Christmas inspires in you. Not what it makes you think of, but what it inspires. Look beyond the surface, not only in yourself, but in others.

We live in troubled times, where there is little peace and not enough good will towards mankind. December 25th may quiet it down for a few moments, but that's all. If Christmas inspires any kind of vision of a better world, ask yourself what it would take for us to reach that world?

Mainly, ask yourself what part of what it would take are you willing to give? What you write on a Christmas card lasts perhaps a few weeks, then is thrown away. What you write on the lives and hearts of other people lasts forever.

So, on this Christmas, "write" something worth giving, and worth keeping forever. And may others do the same for you.

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