Christmas – we look at the twinkling lights and bright decorations and for a few seconds the Christmas spirit permeates our hectic schedules and “to do” lists.
We extend greetings and mail Christmas cards and packages and feel that “spirit” for a few more minutes. For some people, time is taken to attend candlelight services at a neighborhood church as a token to an old ritual or tradition.
But is that all there is?
Have we reduced Christmas to a few watered down traditions that we observe once a year before we go back to life as usual? Do we forget that we have this holiday because we wanted to honor and celebrate the birth of a tiny child who happened to be the Son of God? It is with this monumental event where transformation of the heart and soul begin.
A friend of mine buys a wreath every year to put on her parent’s grave.
This year, time was running out for her annual tradition and she stopped at a store she usually doesn’t frequent and was visibly disappointed to discover all the wreaths had been sold.
When she made an inquiry as to whether there were others in the back room not yet put out for sale, she was told no, they were all gone.
Her disappointment led to a conversation about why this was so important to her. The clerk suggested perhaps she could buy a swag, which was above her budget. The store manager, overhearing the exchange, came up and said they would like to give the swag to her free.
She was overwhelmed with such generosity and told them she would accept their kind offer. A week later, as she told me about the exchange, she reported how long lasting the deep warm feelings of good will she had experienced with this gesture of kindness and understanding still remained.
One little act of understanding, of caring and giving created long term feelings of peace and good will.
If such a simple act could resonate so strongly and last for a long time, how much would a string of little acts transform the lives of those around us?
With this story, I am reminded again of the times I have not followed this principle of being sensitive to the needs of people around me. With a warm smile or a few compassionate words of understanding, we can let someone know they are not alone, that we have been in similar situations and that there is hope. We can extend that tiny kernel of belief that will carry them beyond the moment.
As I look back over this past year, I am reminded of those times when I was too busy to see the need of another and to respond in some way. As I kneel humbly before the Christ child’s manager, I ask for more awareness and sensitivity to those around me – times when I can listen, or give a hug. It doesn’t take a lot of time. I ask that the transformation that He started in me so long ago, continues – that through my actions that transformation will grow – a transformation that goes beyond rituals and holiday celebrations but is seen everyday by simple acts.
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