Another Christmas

by Terry Hogan

It's another Christmas. It doesn't seem like it could possibly be, but there it is. December is on the calendar and snow is on the ground. There's even some ice on the lakes. I guess it's got to be. Shoppers are at the mall and the other stores, looking a little harder at the price tag this year. The economy has been tough in most places, but Galesburg seems to have gotten the (Maytag) end of the appliance. Perhaps some will decide to have the tree a little less laden, and perhaps Santa's stockings won't be quite so stuffed this year. This is not unreasonable. This is not surprising. But it need not dull Christmas.

I don't intend to write a poor copy of Scrooge, but there is a lot that can be done at Christmas beyond running up the debt. There are folks worse off that need help. There are old folks who can't shovel off their sidewalks. There are old folks who can't retrieve their mail, or get to the post office to buy stamps. There are old folks who have no place to go for Christmas.

Old folks and puppies have an affinity for young children. And for young children? Invite a older relative, or a neighbor over for Christmas dinner. Do it late enough so they can't fret about a gift. Don't take the first or second "no" as a serious answer. They want to come, but don't want to "impose". There are people who are alone, living the lives "of quiet desperation." And it is only worse at the holidays. The ghosts of lost loved ones can silently return at Christmas. The ghosts of "Christmases Past" may lead to depression, not joy. The cheer and excitement of a young child is the best gift to be given. It does not diminish in the giving, but grows when shared.

Start early on the New Year's thing. Start doing a few unsolicited, and perhaps secret, acts of kindness. Shovel off the sidewalk, the porch, or whatever is needed for that elderly person down the way. Take a young son or daughter with you. There is something to be said for learning by example. If the weather is bad for a number of days, check in on them and see if they need a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread.

Life is uncertain, but it is likely that it will be cruel to all of us at one time or another. We cannot stop that from occurring. However, we can help one another get through it.

Am I going to ask you to forgive Maytag? Not me.

But don't let it ruin your Christmas. Do something good for someone who needs it. And right now you shouldn't have difficulty finding someone. If you don't want to do it for them, do it for yourself.

Remember, puppies and old folks.

And if you have to choose, remember that you don't have to keep the old folks. And the old folks probably won't pee on your floor.