Keeping the Christmas Spirit All Year
I know the holidays are behind us, yet that very fact is entirely related to the message I hope to convey. I am also aware that I write the educate column, and yet this does not have much to do with kids or school. Yet there is a lesson to be learned. So here it goes.
I am a sucker for the cheesy holiday Hallmark movies that begin playing in November. Some I watch year after year. Then there are the new ones that I can’t wait to see in hopes of finding another favorite. I find myself settling in early, even though I have more to do than normal, and staying up late so I can watch them. So many of them have similar plots: a single mom finding the perfect man around the holidays, a tragic accident ending in holiday healing, a Scrooge-like business man finding his inner good guy. I typically cry at some point in each of them, yet I find them extremely uplifting. Yes, I love the Christmas classics, but there is something about these that warm my heart. My overly analytical English-teacher brain appreciates the simple, predictable plot. I find them relaxing amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
So why am I sharing this after the holidays have passed? One specific movie began with a voice over that got me thinking. It presented a “What if?” mentality. What if people kept their Christmas Spirit throughout the year? Christmas tends to bring out the best in people. People are more giving, smile more often, and tend to go the extra mile. Well, not always. Don’t get me started on the Black Friday tradition and the knock down drag outs to get a particular item. But in general, people seem happier. We criticize those who put up their trees too early, but why? If it helps put them in the Christmas mood, makes them a little happier, then by golly, what’s the problem. Maybe we should all put our trees up in June. Well, I guess that would take away from the holiday, so let’s save the trees for November and December and simply focus on maintaining our Christmas mentality.
Imagine what the world would be like if we took our Christmas Spirit and spread it throughout the year. Why must we limit it to a couple of months? The elderly who have no family deserve to be sung to and visited more than once a year and those really in need deserve food and clothing year round.
I was recently reminded of the brevity and uncertainty of life when one of my former students lost his life in a tragic accident. As others prepared to celebrate Thanksgiving, his family mourned his passing. This young man enveloped a year-round Christmas spirit. Always smiling and joking, he was the life of my classroom. I don’t know how or if he celebrated Christmas. I don’t know his religious background. But I knew him well enough to know that he had a warm spirit about him.
An incident like this puts everything into perspective. My worries begin to seem trivial. Instead of stressing about work, I need to be thankful I have a job. Instead of wondering when I will get my house cleaned, I need to be thankful I have a roof over my head. And as the days progress toward February, my least favorite month of all, I need to be thankful I am alive to breathe the cold air that often depresses me.
And then I need to fight to keep my Christmas Spirit. Maybe I need to stock up on holiday scents to use throughout the year or make pumpkin bread in March. Maybe I need to call loved ones more often or give little gifts just because. Or maybe I simply need to remember that sweet young man who sat in my classroom and made me smile. His story is not a Hallmark movie that ended sadly. His story is real. But it is not over yet. At least for me, I know his life will serve as a reminder to live everyday with Christmas Spirit.