Sunday, December 25, 2011

Why should Christmas end?

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is hearing stories about people helping others, especially people who happen to be complete strangers. I really like the stories where gifts are given with no strings attached. Appropriately then, one of my favorite Christmas stories is Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," and since it has apparently never been out of print, I think a lot of people agree with me. I do think it's rather sad that most of us forget the last part of the story, when the narrator says, "and it was always said of Scrooge, he knew how to keep Christmas well." We don't talk about how Scrooge changed and made a huge impact on his world afterwards.

This Christmas season I heard of an old college friend who enjoyed the random gift of a stranger paying his restaurant bill, just to say "Merry Christmas." There's also the layaway angel trend that started in my area of Michigan and spread nationwide. People walked into stores like KMart and WalMart then paid off the layaway bills of random strangers.

These are the type of stories I love. It's small stuff, it's not solving world hunger or poverty, it's just people doing random acts of kindness to strangers in their community. It's simple, it's something that can easily start a chain reaction and it's something that nearly anyone can do. These random acts don't have to involve money, it could be as simple as offering to help someone pack up their groceries in their car, writing a thank you note to give to the nurse you see at the doctor's office, etc. I know how important these gifts of kindness can be, I've been the recipient of them more than once. It gives you a smile that you can't explain. It makes you more capable of facing your day - whatever that day may bring.

"And so this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year older, a new year just begun..." This song of John Lennon's always reminds me that I have a whole year to impact other people in a positive way - it doesn't have to just be a month of December thing. So here's my challenge to myself and to you (even if you don't believe in Christmas, God, Jesus or any of that stuff). Find a way to keep Christmas throughout the upcoming year by helping or giving to a random stranger each month. I'm committing to doing one random act of kindness for a stranger each month. If I do this, I think it will make it easier to do random acts of kindness more often. Maybe, just maybe, it will become much more natural and maybe it will encourage those who have received a benefit to do the same thing. Imagine a world where people willingly spread love, joy and peace all year long. I think I'd like to see that world. Are you with me?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Occupy Christmas Tree

99% of our Christmas ornaments are adorning just 1% of the  Christmas tree - the upper echelon of the tree, actually. The other 1% of the ornaments are broken and awaiting repair or are functioning as new seasonal toys for three 3-year-olds.

Occupy Christmas Tree!

My mother-in-law assures me that from outside the house, in the dark, nobody knows what's really going on with our tree.

Actually I think that new Elf on a Shelf idea should really be about an elf who will magically repair all decorations destroyed by exploring 3 year olds - on a nightly basis. After all, aren't magic elves supposed to alleviate work, not make more?

All I know is Lotte is really hoping for a truly decorate-able Christmas next year. The triplets will be 4 by then, here's hoping.

Christmas in the midst of triplets.