Golden Opportunities

Well, here we are. December 2021. What’s changed since last year? A lot I think. Time has passed, we’ve all become a year older. Children have grown and seen the effects of Covid on their young lives. Wearing a mask to school is normal for them. It’s a very different world for the young children. Santa with a mask and not being able to climb on his lap to recite their thought out Christmas lists. Going to school virtually, or having to stay home to quarantine for a couple weeks when Covid outbreaks take over their schools. Children are more stressed out than we may realize.

School and work place shootings are becoming almost common place. How has our culture come to this? Americans are supposed to stand together as a nation.

Many controversies have altered our country and instead of uniting, there is strife, conflict, hatred and violence daily.

Here in our tiny corner of America, rural Indiana, towns with small populations, a lot of the bigger issues seem to fall into the background of our day to day lives. Working hard to put food on the table, watching our families grow, or mourning losses of other family members and friends as the days pass, we might not think a lot about huge cargo ships, trapped in the ocean, or the latest strain of Covid, the economy, or violence people have become driven to due to their own circumstances.

Perhaps we have blinders on to an extent. But if we don’t filter out some of the bad, and there is a lot of it, we can fall victim to depression and violence ourselves.

Today I’m putting away my fall decorations and getting out winter. Each season as I change my house around, I become very aware of the passage of time. How many more seasons do I have? When our kids were little, holiday time and Christmases seemed like something that would last forever. It turns out that they very much do not. We all know this on levels, but until your family has dynamic changes, you take for granted a little bit, that things will always be.

This marks the third year that Rachel has been out of the house. She and her fiance will come this month, but not on Christmas. Dawson lives here with us, but he has to work on Christmas, so it won’t seem like Christmas. Many family members have left us and inevitable memories seep through this happy season that often bring a tear or two. A treasured ornament of my mother’s, the smell of pine trees takes me to my aunt and uncle’s farm. Driving around to see the holiday lights take me way back to my own childhood. Do you remember bundling up in pajamas and blankets, piling in the car and having your dad drive all through town so you could see the lights? I always enjoyed seeing the lights glow from under heaps of snow on the bushes in front of the house. There was something magical about that.

I think this year, it’s very important to impact others with kindness and thoughtfulness. Times are difficult. Covid continues to ravage the world. Family stresses and conflicts cause daily rifts and pain.

I would ask you to practice just a little philanthropy in your corner of the world. I watch as my daughter has just one semester left to have her Master’s Degree in the field of philanthropy. I see her give and fight for causes that are often ignored, or overlooked. She inspires me with her never ending focus of bettering the world around her.

I watch my son, who has gone through such a transformation from a troubled teen and young adult, chose to do better. People tell me all the time what a polite, helpful, friendly and kind young man he is. He inspires me to be more patient. (Which is a HUGE struggle for me!).

So I ask you, please practice kindness this season. Let it trickle into the new year. Times are hard. Can’t we help make it better for others by doing little things that add up to big things. Smile when you’re struggling. Chances are, someone will smile back. Be that person who pays for the order for the person behind you in the drive thru line. Take an angel from a tree and provide gifts for those who can’t provide for their families. Donate to a food pantry, an animal shelter, or a charity that touches your soul.

We all have losses, pain, stress and situations to deal with. Let’s help one another as we should.

Blessings for a loving holiday season.

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