I recently read something very profound that beckoned this question:
Why doesn’t the generosity of people during the Christmas season spill out into their lives during other times of the year?
For many people it is the spirit of Christmas that puts them in the giving mood. Their generosity peaks from Thanksgiving until December 25. Maybe it’s the warm glow of twinkling Christmas lights or seeing the cherry red buckets and bell ringers outside the stores that does it. Others see the plight of the poor and volunteer at soup kitchens and shelters during the holidays. Others organize coat drives and clothing drops and Toys for Tots events for needy families and kids. Or maybe it’s helping out a military family where one of the parents is deployed in the Middle East during the holidays.
Neighbors bake for each other and drop off cookies and bring good cheer to each other during the Christmas holidays. There are carolers going from door to door, festivals and celebrations where people are more likely to reach into their pockets to help out. People are willing to take that spirit of Christmas and spread it around during December. It becomes contagious. One good deed grows a hundredfold and before you know it, you and your fellow man or womankind have made Christmas special for people who need it.
Aside from charitable organizations — Christmas is usually (and hopefully) the most wonderful time of the year for them — generosity is something as simple as holding a door for someone in the store, letting someone go ahead of you in line, happily giving another person that prime parking spot at the mall without complaint.
It’s such a wonderful time to watch people. The world is not dark and scary and angry and rushed during Christmas. I even blogged about the fact that when I looked around, I saw Santa Claus everywhere.
But then Christmas is over and we take down the decorations and clean out under the tree. And something happens. We go back to living our lives the way we do for the other 11 months out of the year.
We sometimes forget how good it feels to spread a little Christmas spirit come January 1.
It’s back to our lives, making healthy resolutions, getting back to the grind at work, back to school, back to reality and our good deeds become something of the past.
Oh I know this is not true for everyone. There are so many giving and generous and caring people whose good tidings are 24-7-365. I know a lot here in my own town.
But take me and others like me. The feeling of good cheer, of going above and beyond to help out, of spreading good tidings –well, it is now, sadly, more than a month old. Ancient history.
It took that little blurb in a little book to get me thinking about it.
Why is it that I ramp up my generosity only at Christmas? It’s not like I don’t do anything nice at all the other 11 months. I am nice. (Usually). And I do give. But it is notably less than it was in December.
I guess for me it’s easy to remember to be generous during the holidays because of the sights and sounds like the Salvation Army bell ringers and bright red Toys for Tots bins or the many stores that ask if you want to donate $1 for a cause when you check out.
But in reality, the people who need people don’t go away in January. Maybe it’s just the voices on their behalf that I can’t hear quite as clearly.
So how hard is it really to continue to do something nice for someone when there are no bells ringing and pretty decorations around? Some little random acts of kindness to brighten up the dreary days of a New England winter? Continuing the Christmas cheer well into in Spring?
The answer is: not very hard at all.
It doesn’t have to be much. Maybe it could be just listening to someone instead of rushing off the phone. It could be making a dinner for my elderly neighbor or stopping to chat with her when I walk my dog. Making an extra batch of muffins to bring to a friend or cookies for my kids’ classrooms. Taking the time to make a special memory with my family.
It could be putting an extra few dollars in the weekly collection at church or taking the bags of old clothes and unused baby items to a local shelter. Or troll a BOGO sale and give one away to someone else. When I am at the grocery store, I can fill an extra brown bag with goods for the town’s food pantry. Instead of leaving my grocery cart, I can return it to the corral or intercept a shopper getting out of her car and offer it up.
No, not hard at all.
I think I am up for a challenge. I am going to attempt the WordPress challenge of a Post A Week in 2012. And along with that I will make my own personal challenge to keep the Christmas spirit alive and well all year.
Small or not so small random acts of non-holiday holiday cheer each week.
Who knows? Maybe it will catch on. Maybe a seed will grow.
How about you? Are you up for a challenge?