12 Dec
2013
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Spreading Christmas Cheer

My three boys are part of their school’s student council. For the second year, the council chose to spread Christmas cheer by decorating doors at a nearby assisted living center. Last week, the students were placed in groups and given free-reign to design Christmas-themed doors. The two council sponsors approved all designs, and today those designs became reality. There was a reindeer holding sheet music and singing, a gingerbread man standing on gumdrops, a snowman, Santa Claus holding cookies wearing a sign that read “Cookie Monster” (that door was the brain-child of my 9-year-old) and many doors wrapped like Christmas presents.

The importance of serving in your community is something we try to teach our children. I serve on a couple of boards and volunteer at our church. My husband has coached several sports and is a den leader for Cub Scouts. We enjoy giving back, but it serves a greater purpose of modeling what we preach.

Santa door decoration Christmas cheerAdmittedly, I didn’t go into the service project this afternoon with the best of attitudes. I was tired. There was a ballet lesson we’d be pressed to get to. Dinner needed to be squeezed in somewhere, and I had no idea what the homework situation would be. Nonetheless, the boys were looking forward to it, and our daughter is always excited to tag along on an excursion for school. When we arrived at the center, there were loads of parents milling around and a slew of student teachers from school. All the supplies were sorted. The kids were attentive and eager to get their ideas from paper to door.

Then he walked over. He slowly made his way around the dining room carrying a large Christmas gift bag filled with Tootsie Pops. He stopped at each child and asked them to take a treat. I listened as each kiddo quietly said thank you and a few of the older ones added a “Have a Merry Christmas.” The man walked laps around the center, stopping to talk with students and parents. He gave compliments and placed even more candy in little hands. I heard him tell two ladies to head down the hall, there were two little girls running in circles. I wandered down that way to see the ladies smile as they watched my daughter and her friend act their age.

The man was there last year. I vividly remember him telling his story. There is no family coming to visit him. No one taking him on outings. He took items and photos from his room to share with us. I was glad to see him again this year. I wonder if he knows how seeing him improved my spirits just as much as our visit brightened his day. The residents were more than happy to just be around kids, to watch them create, sing, lick their suckers and clog up the hallways.

Life is full of hustle and bustle all year long. That hustling increases during the holidays. We become lost in gatherings, baking, gift buying, gift wrapping, decorating and quickly dropping a few coins in a red bucket or a new toy in a cardboard box. None of those items are inherently bad. For me, the closer we get to Christmas Day the more I feel people are just going through the motions of the Christmas season. I’m guilty of this at times. I had a list of baking I wanted to accomplish, but not the hours required to complete it. It had to be done because I do it every year. What kind of logic is that? The illogical sort. What needs to be done this month is for me to slow down, take a breath and enjoy this happiest of all seasons. Our excursion to decorate doors realigned my desires for December and banished the growing feeling of being overwhelmed. I want to spend the next 13 days with people enjoying all the Christmas season stands for not just trying to accomplish tasks.

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