Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Magical and Miraculous Holiday Season

The holiday season is here and for many of us, it is a season of magic, miracles, joy, and laughter, spending time with friends and family in love and companionship, and eating holiday food to our heart’s desire. We look forward to the holidays and always see them pass with fond memories. Seeing the holiday decorations brings warm feelings, and people feel a connectedness to everyone that is not normally felt outside of the season. Charities see a boost in giving, people go out of their way to see that the hungry are fed, children are given toys, and we are a little kinder to neighbors and strangers alike. Even the holiday movies are festive and always have a happy ending.

On the other side, there are those who do not experience the magic and miracles of the holidays, but instead, the holidays are something to dread and fill them with much anxiety. Family gatherings are a nightmare, and it tends to be an extremely stressful time. There are those who are suffering sometimes more than the average person should have to suffer. I have so many friends who are going through the most awful stuff right now. We all know family, friends, neighbors, and strangers, who are struggling just to get through each day, let alone another holiday season.

So how can we bring a little magic and maybe a miracle or two to those who are not as fortunate as we are this holiday season? There are so many ways we can reach out and touch someone, and possibly change a life, even if just for the moment. Sometimes just a smile can brighten someone’s day. A hug, a kind word, a compliment…. That may be the only kindness that person has received in days, weeks, months, or even years.

I remember many years ago, I was working with an older woman and she was having a bad day. I gave her a hug, and afterwards, she commented, “Gee, I don’t even remember the last time someone hugged me.” A friend in college told me that before we met, she was considering taking her life, but after we became friends, she changed her mind. All I did was become her friend.

We never know how we touch someone’s life. We may even unknowingly save a life. It doesn’t take much. There are countless ways to help people. The smaller ways are to smile, offer a friendly hello, commit random acts of kindness, send a card of encouragement, call someone and tell them you were thinking about them, or ask if there is anything you can do to help. If you are financially able, take a box of food to someone who is in need, take them out to dinner once in a while, offer to babysit or sit for an elder to give someone a break; the ways are endless.

It’s so easy to sit in judgment of what others are going through because it is easier than having to love, have compassion, or understanding. Some think a homeless person is lazy, a depressed person can just snap out of it, the unemployed only need to go out and get a job, the addict only needs to stop the addiction… There is always a bigger picture. People are the way they are for whatever reasons, based on their upbringing, their environment, experiences, and beliefs. We never know a person’s state of mind.

But maybe we can start the healing. Maybe we can be the spark that starts them on their road to having a better life. Sometimes all a person needs is to feel validated as a human being, that their life means something to someone, that someone cares, to know that someone loves them. You don’t know how much the words “I love you” can mean to someone.

So, this holiday season, let’s reach out and touch someone with love, kindness, compassion, and understanding. Even better…let’s continue throughout the year and see how we can make this world a better place. Jesus said… “whatever you do for the one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me.” (Matt. 25:40) It begins with us. Be the magic. Be the miracle. Be the love. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

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