Cheerful Givers at the Walk for Justice 2006 by Mykl Roventine
Thanks to Alex Blackwell for sending his email about the Spread the Love NOW writing project. What a wonderful topic and idea! The joint effort by the Three Monks – Wade of The Middle Way, Kenton of Zen-Inspired Self Development, and Albert of Urban Monk.Net to add more compassion to our daily lives. (To join the fun, click here for details.)
I love Christmas. Even in the midst of crowded stores and snarled traffic, I love to sing a fun Christmas song along with the radio. I notice how more people stop to hold open a door, help to reach an item on a high shelf, or just return your smile. What a fantastic feeling one gets from kindness. Whether you give it or receive it, it always makes you feel good.
So I’d like to make my goal this; to try to spread the same happy, kindhearted attitude every day of the year. For me to say “I’m spreading Christmas cheer,” I know exactly what that means. It means taking time for people who need a boost or a friendly face. It means forgiving the small grievances and problems that crop up in relationships with family and friends. It means being willing to start each day believing that you can fill it full of fun, adventure and lots of love.
On the surface it seems sort of “Pollyanna,” like we are ignoring our troubles or “the realities of life.” Far from it. To me, it simply means have a more open-minded attitude. Spreading Christmas Cheer means to be more conscious of the opportunities to spread happiness and joy to other people, whether we’re at work, running errands or even at home.
Let me give you some examples. I have an elderly neighbor who doesn’t get many visitors. For me to take a few minutes out of my day to say hello, stop by or give him a call, makes him feel appreciated and loved. Or if I send a letter or card to my mother or father, I will sometimes include a cartoon that I think they’ll enjoy. I also send emails of encouragement to friends who are sad or depressed to let them know I’m thinking about them.
There are other little things we can do, like slowing down to allow the car ahead of us to make a left turn, or holding open the door for the elderly lady with the cane. Smiling at the crying child, snapping it out of its tantrum so a busy mother can finish shopping. The nice thing about compassion is that it is so easy to give. Most people only want to feel noticed, and appreciated. They don’t need gifts or lots of money. All they need is someone to listen to their story, to talk them through their fears or a hand to hold when they feel alone.
Christmas is special because people make time for each other. They plan on being with friends and family and put their work away for awhile. We spend extra time to cook a special family meal, or finding the perfect gift. We talk, and we listen. We let other people be as important, or even more important than ourselves. That is true compassion.
As a last little note – why not add a little jolt of creativity to your task? Every time to do a random act of kindness, say a mental “Merry Christmas,” when you do. Or say it out loud if you like. Make a list of the gifts of time, attention, friendship and love you give to people at Christmas and try to do those things during the entire year.
Even if you “fail” to keep your Christmas spirit every day, I’m sure you’ll find yourself thinking about it much more often and being more tolerant and optimistic too. None of us is perfect, even at Christmas, but it sure is fun to try. If you have a better way to extend the Christmas season, I’d love to hear it! Let me know how your own goals and projects go. Above all, have fun with it! Merry Christmas everyone!