Thursday, December 22, 2011

The shortest day of the year

For those of you who know me, you know that I really love Christmas. I try to restrain myself (well, maybe not really), but as soon as Thanksgiving is over, I dive right into Christmas - the tree, the decorations, the peppermint flavored things, the music! Part of it is because I find that December is a super busy month, especially in grad school, and especially in the mental health field. So if I don't get into the holiday spirit early, it feels like the whole season just blows past me, and I miss the whole thing! And what can be sadder than "missing" Christmas, and having to wait a whole year for it to come back?

Well, ok, there are a lot of things that are sadder. But that's part of the reason I love Christmas...It tends to be a very "giving" time of year - people are more likely to make donations and do charitable activities. How can you not love a holiday that inspires people to be more generous? (Of course, I know that many people have really valid reasons for not being excited about the holidays. The Christmas season tends to magnify everything, good or bad. And when you've lost someone, or are generally not feeling cheery, the holidays can seem like a personal attack.) But I just really love to hear stories about people acting in kindness to make someone else's life better.

I read this really heart-warming story about "layaway angels" - people who donated money to pay off layaway accounts for kids' toys and clothing on layaway at K-Mart. One man came in to make a payment, and was told that everything was paid for. He started to cry, because he knew that he wasn't going to be able to pay off his kids' presents before Christmas. Some people made big donations, and others were small, but seemed to be extremely meaningful no matter the size of the donation. What a wonderful holiday story!

In a story that's more close to home for me...I've been working with a kiddo whose family doesn't have a lot of financial resources. She's been having a rough year, and all this girl really wants for Christmas is an American Girl doll...but we all know that there is no way her mom is going to get one for her. Our nurse at school took it upon herself to order one, and a lot of the teachers have pitched in to pay for it. The nurse told us that she "accidentally ordered the wrong one for her niece," but I'm pretty certain she just ordered it out of the goodness of her heart. To avoid the complication of knowing that a teacher bought her a pricey gift, our school resource officer is going to deliver it to the girl's house as a mystery gift from "Santa." I can just see her face light up when she gets it! I think, for her, this is really going to feel like a "Christmas miracle," and I can't help but feeling pretty warm and fuzzy inside. :)

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy Solstice! Whether you feel like celebrating or not this year, I send my love and wishes to you for peace this season!

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