It's Christmas time folks!! Anyone who knows me knows that this is when I'm living my best life. Since I was little, I have always said that Christmas time brings out the best in all of us. Christmas movies are playing on every channel, multiple radio stations have switched to playing Christmas tunes 24/7, there are trees and pretty lights everywhere. Something about this atmosphere always seemed to light a fire in people's hearts.
Christmas holds a reputation for being the "season of giving." This is when we see charitable organizations doing their biggest campaigns for donations: Salvation Army bell ringers at every store front, animal shelters holding reduced rate (or even free) adoptions, Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts-- the list goes on and on. The opportunities for giving are endless, and usually our fellow man seizes all of these opportunities to help our neighbors in need. HOWEVER, I have noticed a disturbing trend this Christmas season: it just doesn't seem to be the "season of giving" anymore.
I have always been in fierce opposition of everyone who accuses Christmas of being a holiday for consumerism. I felt that people actually understood that it is far better to give than to receive. This just doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
I went downtown with my family to look at the big Christmas tree and do some holiday shopping. Right as we exited the parking garage, there were at least four homeless people begging for money from passersby on their way to the holiday market. Now, these passersby were all well-off enough to go shopping at the holiday market, full of hand-crafted knick knacks that sold for anywhere between $20 and somewhere in the $100s... so don't tell me they couldn't spare $1.00 to any one of the homeless people on their way there.
Long story short... people weren't stopping. It's Christmas, it is freezing cold outside, and these four individuals are completely without the basic necessities that we all take for granted. Yet, people were just completely ignoring them. The best part? Everyone thought that by refusing to look at the homeless people sitting on the street begging for even the spare change from their pockets, that might somehow make the problem go away. Out of sight, out of mind-- right?
Whether or not you give people the human decency of your eye contact, an acknowledgement of their presence, or-- Heaven forbid-- the spare change you were going to dump anyway, they exist. Do you really feel okay inside when you pass a homeless person and look the other way? How about when you pass the Salvation Army bell ringer and just ignore them when they turn to you and say, "Merry Christmas?" Does your blatant greed and selfishness fill you with holiday cheer? Newsflash-- I'll bet it doesn't. (And, if it does, I worry for you as a person...)
So what, my friends, is the moral of this story? Obviously, I'm trying to guilt-trip you a little bit. But, it could actually benefit you. I have heard SO many people complain that they lose their Christmas spirit as adults; Christmas loses the splendor and excitement that it once held for them as children. People wonder why this is the case. Have you ever thought that it's because of you?
My challenge to you: sometime before Christmas, stop and look for someone who needs your help. If you happen to see a person with a cardboard sign asking for spare change, STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING and grab some change out of your wallet. If you hear a Salvation Army bell ringing, follow the sound and drop $1.00 in the bucket. Pay for someone's Starbucks order and start one of those "pay it forward" chains, if you can't find anything else to do. Guess what? The charity you do won't just benefit the other party; you're going to feel pretty good, too. Your heart might even stand a chance of growing three sizes... who knows?
To the old lady in the floor-length fur coat who turned her nose up to a homeless person slumped over and begging in the streets... this one is for you. Merry Christmas, Grinch.