Celebrating with kindness
November arrives with early dusk, bare trees, brown lawns and leaves that crunch unkindly beneath our feet. We glance back over our shoulders at the summer we may have taken for granted as we slide into mid-autumn and the guaranteed winter that lurks — ready to pounce at any moment with snow, ice and bitter cold.
There is, however, one saving grace: the holidays. Thanksgiving steps up to the plate (pardon the pun) and we launch ourselves right into decorating, shopping and the spread of goodwill. Suddenly, we are experiencing a familiar sort of magic that speaks to us of hope. All is good with the world and we are clad in new sweaters, scarves, footwear and jewelry. The new year marks the end of the celebration and we embrace the opportunity to begin all over again.
For some, this particular time of year is anything but merry and bright, my friends. For some, it is a period of drudgery and loneliness, and often with good reason.
One of the most valuable lessons I have experienced came to me from a former co-worker. As I recall, it was just about a week before Christmas and many of us, myself included, were dressed in full holiday garb, like sparkly Christmas shirts, jingle bell earrings, even light-up necklaces and ties.
My co-worker, wearing a bright red Santa hat, had very little to say. I asked her if she was finished with her shopping and what her plans were for the much-anticipated Christmas dinner. She looked downward, the Santa hat slipping off to the side, and chuckled.
“You know, Belinda, not all of us are joyful during this time of year. To be honest, I haven’t thought much about it. I will be quite happy when the whole thing is over. If I hear one more ‘Merry Christmas’ I think I will scream.”
She waited for my reaction, her Santa hat now sitting crookedly over one eye. We both started to laugh. And we laughed, and we laughed. I was fully aware of the fact that not everyone felt tremendous happiness and elation during this time of year. For some, it was a time of sorrow or deep depression.
Some faiths do not acknowledge the birth of Christ but they certainly join in the striving for peace, kindness and love. I decided long ago that I would continue to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and if I receive silence or a look of indifference, that is fine with me, my friends, for I am convinced that every time we wish someone well, we leave a bit of glitter behind.
Let us all enjoy this special time of the year, in whatever fashion we choose. And, let us stay safe and be kind to ourselves and each other.
Belinda Ouellette lives in Caribou with her Goldendoodle, Barney. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.