It's the thought

Christmas is a difficult time of year for many of us. Soldiers are forced to be away from families during what many consider the most family-oriented time of the year. The working poor are forced to reckon with the truth that their children don’t get the treatment that other children get, and the kids get to look down upon themselves and their parents as a reward. The growing population of atheists and other non-Christians in the United States get to swim through the religious drivel. The environmentally conscious greenies among us wonder at the millions of trees that are killed just as their benefit begins to outweigh the resources that go into their reaching a sellable size. And what of those tons of plastic tinsel, wrapping paper, and conspicuous consumption Christmas lights on homes? What of the people who have nobody, the elderly, the single, the infirm?

We could truly go on for the length of this editorial about the types of individuals who are forcibly forgotten during this time of plenty. But this is the News & Review, and we don’t complain without offering ideas of how to make the world a better place for ourselves and others. Or at least a different place.

Every year, you hear the phrase, “It’s the thought that counts.” It’s a shame that’s not a literal idea instead of just a euphemistic way of saying someone didn’t like a gift they received.

This year, come Boxing Day, we urge you to take a moment to think about those people in your world who are most likely to be left behind in the Christmas orgy, and make a plan now for how you might be able to improve their lives come Christmas 2015. Start now. We have a bit of logic to this: If we just come around in the Christmas season, it will be weird for whomever it is we’re trying to bring into our lives. When we just take a coat to the homeless shelter in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, we’re only doing it to assuage our own guilt at our lack of charity toward the needy throughout the year. And the needy get it, too. They’re needy, so they can’t refuse our largess, but they know it’s not about including them, it’s still about us.

There are people in hospice care all year. So what if they don’t make it to the next winter solstice? It’s an investment, right? It’s us putting in the little bits of ourselves so we get the big payoff on Christmas Day, when we least want to spend time with strangers—because they won’t be strangers. If it weren’t so damned charitable, it would almost be selfish.

Soldiers in foreign wars are easy. Surely, we can send an email sympathizing with their time away from family. Opportunities will become apparent throughout the year.

Those committed enviros don’t have to be the hard ones. We could save the year’s comics pages to wrap gifts come Santa time next December. We could could make a wreath from materials that don’t kill the trees they come from. We could save eggshells for the spring garden. Homemade jellies, pickled peppers and applesauce will make their season as they taste the juices of your thoughtfulness.

A little thought early in the year may not bring people over to the red side, but it may make them hate it less. And that will make everyone’s world a little brighter.