Spreading Holiday Cheer

Paying it Forward

 The holiday season is once again upon us. For some the holiday cheer is bursting at the seams while others struggle to just smile.

Today while walking past two young women bell ringers in front of a department store I noticed one was cheerfully wishing shoppers “Merry Christmas” while the other played “Jingle Bells” on her trumpet. The music was comforting and it made me and the others smile as we passed the pair. As the young woman attempted to play her trumpet, she struck an occasional note which was not part of the original musical score. But, this was not a bad thing. It only added to the charm and  happy memories of band class in school. Besides, she was doing her part to spread joy. Other people did not tend to mind either since they simply smiled larger with every squawk of her trumpet.

 Except for one elderly man dressed in a plaid shirt and shorts. As he passed, the young woman wished him “Merry Christmas.” The man gruffly replied, “she needs to take some music lessons.”

I smiled as I walked by, but felt a bit deflated. The “Scrooge” continued into the store, cutting people off and going on about his business with a scowl on his unshaven face. I felt sad. It was as though he had just stepped on a Christmas tree ornament leaving it shattered into a million pieces on the floor.

I know this is not an easy time of year for everyone. Not all memories are happy ones. Money is tight and the thought of trying to scrape up enough money to get someone a gift can be a heavy burden to bear. At one time I was a single parent of four children. So, I am well aware of the issues.

If the man had simply smiled and said “thank you” it may have made the young woman’s day. No money involved just a a few kind words.

Therefore, I am encouraging everyone to find their simple joy.

Goodwill toward others was recently brewing in Florida at a coffee shop drive-thru window. One customer started the “pay it forward” movement when they decided to buy coffee for the next person in line.  Instead of just accepting the warm beverage, they kept the chain going and returned the favor by purchasing the next person’s in line cup of “joe.” This happened over and over as people generously passed a cup of cheer to their fellow man. The chain lasted nearly 11 hours and 378 people later, until a woman refused to accept her gift and insisted on paying for her own coffee.

This was not the first time similar random acts of caffeinated kindness occurred. The pay it forward chain lasted at another coffee house for several days for 1,468 customers.

The opportunity to do things for your fellow man is boundless. There are countless charitable organizations needing assistance in the form of toys for children, food drives for the needy and items for the elderly. There is also the invaluable donation of time which does not have a monetary value but can be worth so much more.

Those seeking to make a difference on a personal level, there is still more to do to spread a little Christmas cheer. It is as easy as holding the door open for someone or letting them ahead of you in line. I know about the kindness of others while hustling and bustling through the holiday crowds. I went to the mall to purchase a gift card. When I walked into the store it was overwhelmingly crowded. I made my way to the checkout line and saw the nearly 30 people waiting to check out. Since I had surgery a few days prior, I knew this was a challenge I was not up to do. I asked a salesperson who was walking by if I could get the card online and her response was a heartbreaking, “no.” A woman who was standing there listening to my plight told me she was a nurse who totally understood and for me to get in front of her. She also told me to go home and get some rest. I teared up and thanked her before purchasing the gift card and making my quick exit from chaos.

All over of the world, Christmas spirit is in the form of a beloved character known as Santa Claus. However, in 1897, an eight-year-old girl questioned her local newspaper editor if Santa Claus actually existed. Francis Pharcellus Church, of the NY Sun,  replied and said her friends were wrong and had been affected by the “skepticism of a skeptical age.”

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished,” Church wrote.

After all, most adults know the thing they really want for Christmas is not under the tree in a beautifully wrapped box with a shiny bow. It is really in their hearts and where it was all along although some may have to search deep within to find it.

Merry Christmas!