- Holidays and Celebrations
A Magical Christmas Moment
The Christmas season has arrived and with it, a reality check. There is too much going on this year and I can't find my spirit of Christmas. It doesn't help that it's 70 degrees outside today. While everyone else is shopping and wrapping and seeming to enjoy the magic of Christmas, I am less than enthused. The older I get the more I realize how jaded I have become. I think it happens so slowly that often we don’t realize how the cruelties of life have changed the way we see things. It sneaks up on us until one day it is impossible to ignore anymore. That’s when we tell ourselves it’s not going to happen to us. We tell ourselves we’re better than this and we aren’t going to let life turn us into cold, hard, lonely shells of the person we once were. And then, we do what we can to turn it around.
Cause and Effect
I understand how and why it happens. The retail world makes us feel like aliens if we don't spend too much money on things that our friends and family don't really want. They entice us with ads of sales while we really know they inflated the price first. We have become slaves to retail, haven't we?
It doesn't stop with the money we spend for holidays. Many of us spend our days in a competitive work environment. Doesn’t it seem there is always someone who is willing to walk over top of us to get the bosses attention? They will steal your ideas and present them as their own, peer at your notes in a meeting and then make your presentation before you have a chance. Sure it was all their idea, wasn’t it?
At the end of the day we come home, turn on the news, and get bombarded with how evil the world has become. Countries that we thought were our allies are stealing our secrets and our own government is providing them the weapons they need to attack us. Our kids have lost their way and are arming themselves against what? Their teachers? Their friends? They are dying at the hands of law enforcement trying to protect an entire school. Is that not supposed to affect us?
But wait, there is more. We log onto our computers and learn that our food sources aren’t safe and neither is the food we feed our pets. Our produce is being genetically altered and our meat is being pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. And we’re supposed to be normal?
- Social Issues: Caring For The At-Home Care Givers
Caring for at loved one at home is difficult and can quickly turn a care-giver into one who needs care. With just a little help from friends or neighbors, care-givers can remain healthy too.
The world we live in is not the world we once knew. It is a world that controls us with fear and saturates our minds with tragedy. What happened to the world we use to know? It was a world of hope. It was a world where mothers and fathers understood their different but respective roles and when a friend got promoted in their job, we celebrated. In that world, if a neighbor was sick, we fed them, held their hand during the long, lonely night, and did their laundry until they could do it again themselves.
What happened to that world?
From Bad to Worse and...
It happened a few days ago and I doubt I will ever forget it. It was one of those moments; a moment that is forever etched in my memory, complete with feelings and images and sounds of the season. It is a memory too precious not to share. I hope it will inspire you as it has me.
To set the scene it is important to tell you about my day. It had been tough. There were issues in our family that were unpleasant to deal with. One parent was ill and the other stuck in the fog of Alzheimer’s disease. The new neighbors living above me were yelling at each other and their two year old had cried at the top of her lungs for most of the day. She’s spoiled, not hurt or sick. I was at my wit’s end and was sitting alone, in tears, over the struggles of the day. All I wanted was a little peace and quiet. It appeared that peace and quiet was not on the agenda.
In an attempt to drown out the sounds above me, I turned the television on and turned the volume up. It was 8 P.M. Suddenly the noise above me stopped and I took a deep breath in relief. And there it was. More noise. But it was different. It was music and it was loud. I released a few expletives (yes I did) and got up to see where the music was coming from. My jaded self just knew it was coming from an apartment balcony in the next building and I was not happy. The last thing I wanted this night was an argument with another tenant. Oh, but I couldn’t say anything anyway, not until 11 P.M. when the noise ordinance took effect.
Peace and Quiet - Not!
I listened again and realized it was live music. I could identify a guitar and I recognized the song. It was a religious song made famous by Mark Lowry entitled “Mary Did You Know”. The vocalist obviously thought he was a great singer because his voice would escalate about 100 decibels on the chorus. Oh my aching head, I thought. I can’t handle this tonight.
For reasons I still don’t understand, it seemed important to know where the noise was coming from. I peered through my bedroom window and saw nothing. Making my way back to the living room I made the decision. I was going into the back yard, identify the source, and ask them to turn it down. I didn’t care about a noise ordinance. My jaded self just thought it was rude of these self-proclaimed musicians to invade my privacy and desperately needed peace and quiet.
Hope Comes in the Night
I opened the back door and stepped out onto my patio and there they were, seven young adults clad in holiday sweaters and hats, just a dozen feet away from my patio. They were singing a Christmas carol in perfect harmony. I heard one of them whisper “we have an audience” and they stepped up their game. The young man with the guitar then announced that the next song was written especially for – I won’t mention her name. They began to sing a lively and personalized rendition of Jingle Bells. And that – is when it happened.
It finally dawned on me that this was not a random group of carolers trying to invade my peace and quiet. No, this was a group of young adults giving their time and talent to create magic for my neighbor who was recently diagnosed with a tragic illness. I was speechless and stunned and – ashamed of myself.
As the music ended, I found myself clapping my hands, applauding their gift to their friend. In the distance I heard other neighbors applauding too. And then I heard her voice, the intended recipient, as she said from her balcony – “You don’t know what a blessing you have been.” And I thought, yeah, to me too.
Sharing the Magic of Christmas
Just as there is a reason for the season, there is a reason I wanted to share this story. The gift shared by these young adults restored my hope and faith in a world I want to keep believing in. How kind and generous these kids were. They could have been ripping and running around town or glued to their iPad or iPhone. But no, these were the same young adults that I have been so worried about. These were the people that only moments before had caused me to be angry over the noise they were making. And I had to admit it was a beautiful noise. It was a noise made of love, a gift from one to another, created of care and concern for someone in need. It was beautiful. It was magical. It was - a moment.
Those young people will never know how precious their gift really was. They will never know how their simple gift to a friend touched others and reminded us of the true nature of people and, the reason for the season. They renewed my hope for the future and put my jadedness in its place. They put the magic back in Christmas.
And now, it is my turn to share:
Merry Christmas to you my friends. May the magic of the season be yours and last throughout the year.