Monday, June 26th, 2017

This holiday season, don’t forget those who most need our gifts

By MARTHA TOWNS

Why is it that this Christmas seems different to me than all those that have gone before?

In the first place, it has arrived much earlier than usual, as has the cold weather. Everyone I’ve talked to lately has complained about this situation. Summer was nothing to get excited about and we’ve had snow before the leaves were all raked and now it’s Christmas and we are just not ready.

As I write this, it is not yet Thanksgiving and its imminent approach means that there’s a lot to do in the next couple of days, although not so much for me this year. Daughter Abby and her husband Peter offered to have Thanksgiving at their home, which means that yours truly won’t have to spend the day in the kitchen. I can’t decide whether to watch the Macy’s parade or to see “A Christmas Story” all the way through.

Maybe it’s just that the “holidays” as we have learned to speak of them just aren’t such a big deal anymore in a world that seems to be full of “big deals” and I’m not talking about what’s on sale at the big box stores. Life is just one big deal after another these days. Or so it seems. The simple life we think we remember is long gone and here we are in the midst of the digital revolution and not quite sure how it’s going to play out.

No need to shop the stores anymore when you can order online and maybe even get it the next day? Why bother to fight the crowds when you can stay home in your jammies and get everything done without leaving the house. Just think, no dreaded search for a parking space, no fighting the crowds, no arguing with another shopper over the last of the “must-have” items, or dealing with a surly clerk.

No, I’m not serious. Savvy shoppers go early when parking spaces are easier to find and clerks these days go out of their way to be friendly and accommodating. It has come to the point where I hate to ask someone where an item is because they will stop what they are doing and take me to it. I feel as if I’ve interrupted them when all I need is to be pointed in the right direction. Most everyone brings your purchase around the sales desk and hands it to you.

Christmas shopping should be one of the joys of life and it can be if you do it your way. Make a list, check it twice and don’t feel you have to break the bank to make everyone happy. We are blessed to live in an area full of talented people who sell their wares at shows all around town and we have a terrific bunch of locally owned shops where attention is paid and help is cheerfully given.

By the time you read this, the run-up to Christmas will be nearing the finish line and there will be the usual suspects who aren’t finished shopping. Hard to believe when it all started before Thanksgiving or on Thanksgiving or the dreaded day after when a certain portion of society loses its mind. I don’t care what you say, nothing is worth camping out all night in front of a store so you can be the first one in the door.

Maybe the reason it all seems so different this year is because we can no longer live in our comfortable little bubbles. We are all aware of the needs of so many people all around the world and in our own communities. This isn’t your mother’s world anymore.

The poor have always been with us but it seems their numbers are growing daily and the news is full of disasters mostly caused by nature. My brother Bill lives in Peoria, Illinois and he described the aftermath of the storm that flattened the nearby town of Washington. “There was nothing left,” he said.

I don’t imagine those people are worrying about shopping for Christmas, but are concerned instead with putting their lives back together. I have a great imagination, but I can never really imagine what it is like to lose everything.

So maybe this Christmas is the year when we truly begin to think about what we can do for others. Maybe this is the year when we cut back on the number of presents and send the money to the Cleveland Food Bank which may be the only food source some people have. Then there’s the Cleveland Furniture Bank which has been supplying beds and bedding for children who otherwise might sleep on the floor.

Reach out of your comfort zone this year and share the joy of the season with someone you may never know but who will send blessings your way.

 

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