Thursday, December 07, 2006

On Christmas

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned my cheery Christmas mood. All I mentioned there was the surface stuff -- music, shopping, decorating. But to me, the very best thing about Christmas is the giving.

In today's fast-paced, self-centered society, it seems that most people spend at least 11 months of the year thinking about only themselves. Maybe this view is a little cynical, but it really seems that way. People stare straight ahead in stores, totally unaware of their fellow shoppers also trying to navigate the aisles. Kids in school hallways don't always take the time to hold doors or pick up things that others dropped on the floor. Moms let their kids scream and scream everywhere they go. And all that is a shame.

But then comes December. Is it just me, or does everyone really seem nicer around Christmas? Yes, I do hear the horror stories about mad shoppers who try to kill each other. But aside from those incidents, it does seem like people are willing to take a little less time for themselves, and a little more time for others. If you need proof, look at the Salvation Army's donation tree in your community, where they add more lights as people donate more money. I've been watching the one in Lincoln grow brighter. I've seen the one in Omaha too, and by the time Christmas finally arrives, the tree is so full of lights you can't even tell there's a tree under them.

On my floor, we had a "Secret Santa" with a $10 limit. Nearly every girl I've talked to has gone over that limit, because they like to give. I agree; giving is way better than receiving.

The beauty in giving is that you can keep doing it forever; there's always someone who can receive what you have to offer. And the beauty of giving in today's society is that it's easier than ever. A few mouse clicks at the Child's Play website can give a sick kid something to do while in the hospital. (While you're at the Child's Play site, read some of the stories of the struggles they've had in making room for all the donations. If you ever wonder about whethere there are good people left in the world, these stories offer plenty of hardcore evidence that the answer is a resounding YES.)

I love the way Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated talked about charitable giving in his December 4 column:

It was the alltime no-brainer. Skip lunch; save a life. Buy the Top-Flites instead of the Titleists; save a life. Don't bet on the Redskins; save a life. Nothing to research. No government to topple. No warlords to fight.
He was talking about Nothing But Nets, a campaign started by SI last year to fight malaria by giving mosquito nets to kids in Africa. And he's right about the giving -- many of us have a ton of ways we can get rid of some expenses and add a tremendous amount of happiness to someone else's life, or even save lives directly.

And with the power to give that much, how can I help but to feel a tinge of Christmas cheer?

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