December 22, 2017 10:06:30 AM
For some, Christmas is a deeply spiritual event. For others, less so.
Yet no matter or attitude toward the holiday, we are probably our best selves this time of year, mainly because none of us are entirely immune to what is called "The Spirit of Christmas."
Each year, we pause to give thanks on Thanksgiving Day, then we are moved to "pay it forward" in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas.
We are familiar with most of the organized efforts to share Christmas each year. The Salvation Army's Red Kettle and Angel Tree are familiar sights and food and toy drives attract our attention as well.
These efforts reach hundreds of people whose Christmases might otherwise be just another day of unfulfilled hopes and needs. It is through these organized efforts that many of our less-privileged neighbors enjoy what many of us almost take for granted.
The broad reach of these efforts is something to be appreciated and supported, but there are other good deeds, performed without fanfare, spontaneous acts of kindness that are testaments to the spirit of generosity the Christmas season always seems to produce.
A business, a Sunday school class or even a group of neighbors may adopt a family for Christmas. Families invite people who might otherwise spend the holiday alone to join them for the big Christmas meal. Reports of anonymous benefactors emerge: Someone arrives at the department store lay-away counter to discover a stranger has paid off their purchase. A Salvation Army director discovers among the pocket change and small bills, some anonymous person has made a large donation. A package arrives on a doorstep with nothing to identify the gift-giver.
And it doesn't stop there. Every day, some small gesture, some kind word or smile or heart-felt "How are you?" lifts the spirits, arriving at the precise moment when it is needed most.
Someone sacrifices that one prime parking spot for the guy behind him. Another person insists you take her spot in line. "Can I help you?" someone says.
Like ripples in a pond, that kindness arrives and the recipient's attitude is altered and he, too, begins to look for an opportunity to express the kindness to another than he has just received.
Our attitudes are transformed. We become less self-absorbed, more aware of those around us. That awareness leads to action, small, personal expressions of the spirit of Christmas.
We are at our best at Christmas because that is the time we are most aware of our fellow man.
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