10:36 PM EST, January 5, 2012
Now that the “season of giving” has run its course, it’s time for a new way of thinking:
The season of taking.
Now, hold on to your Santa hat, put down the eggnog that’s a few days past the expiration date and drop that snickerdoodle, I’m not suggesting anything revolutionary.
What I’m saying is that Christmas is a lovely time for gifts and giving and sharing. It’s a time for showing those we care about to what degree we like them.
It’s a time for happy thoughts, great memories and expressing your faith — no matter what that is.
But it’s over. The stores can put their Christmas stuff away for nine months while we recover from the overpartying (not me anymore), the overeating (kind of me) and the overspending (uhhh, eggnog, anyone?).
What I want to do with 2011 is take it and toss it away. Oh, I have squeezed the good stuff out of the orange, and scraped the white meat off of the bone.
I want you to join me in making the month of January a season of taking from henceforth and forevermore.
See, there are so many good things we can take from every year. (Unadulterated sappiness alert! If you don’t like an occasional sappy column, please turn your head and cough.)
Christmas time offers plenty of chance for taking: I call them takeaways. They are the things we can take away from 2011 (especially the last couple of months) and use them to our advantage.
The Christmas season showcases thousands of people in our area who are genuinely awesome people. They give because they can, help because they want to and do for others because it’s the right thing to do.
Prime example: Lynne Newman of Chambersburg, Pa., who has organized and led a free Christmas dinner for the past 20 years, is Jewish. She doesn’t celebrate the traditional Christmas holiday, yet she and hundreds of volunteers — Jewish and Christian — work side by side to continue a tradition that brings food and gifts to the needy and lonely at Christmas.
Lynne, you truly are a miracle worker. Thanks for all that you do. We can take away a ton from you. Your selflessness and humanity are inspirational.
If we can take the “do-good” spirit and increase our giving for others even by one deed in 2012, haven’t we started making the world a better place, already? Imagine if even 50% of us did one more thing charitable or good for the environment? It doesn’t have to be world-changing, does it?
Start recycling, help out at your church or temple or mosque.
Volunteer at the local animal shelter. Give $50 to the United Way or another charity next year instead of buying your kid another DVD she’s going to watch once.
The spirit of the season
We can learn a lot from the songs that float across the airwaves during the holidays. Wishing well to others, searching for peace and harmony, giving a gift no matter the size or cost to show someone you care. Try it, you might like it.
A surprise gift or kind word can trigger an amazing ripple effect.
Taking our lumps
This is a tough one for many of us, but it’s doable. This hit me when I saw two college basketball teams get into an ugly brawl in early December. I wanted to rain down some hate on these kids for the choices they made and the even dumber things they said after the incident.
But then the punishment came down and those responsible and in charge hit these kids hard. They were suspended and reprimanded. The school officials acted like grown-ups (unlike in other college sports settings in 2011) and responded swiftly and deftly. The players apologized and truly looked remorseful. Time will tell if they learned anything, but there’s hope that the right thing was done and a good example was set.
Looking at the bright side
No matter how bad you think things are for you, chances are good that someone has it worse. Times are tough out there. Thousands of people are out of work. Lots of children are being abused or neglected and barely have a slice of bread to eat.
Be grateful in bunches for the stuff we have.
I was ungrateful for much of my younger years.
Now, it’s kind of a pet peeve of mine.
What I’m taking away from 2011 is that I have a lot of amazing things for which to be thankful. Is life perfect? Of course not, but I’m trying every day to remember the good things I have, and not worrying about the things that I don’t.
Take the time to just do it
Excuses are so 1990. Nowadays, there really is no reason not to strive for your goals and continue reaching for the prize. With the Internet and other resources so accessible, there’s no excuse not to learn more about what’s holding you back or how you can get to where you want to go.
Got a pain in the leg? Check the web and go see the doctor.
Want to go back to school? Look up nearby schools and set up an appointment with an adviser.
Need to buy a car? Tons of resources are available online and at dealers all over the Tri-State.
Going to have a baby and don’t know what to do or how to prepare? Start on the web and then ask your OB-GYN for advice and additional resources. Plus, there are plenty of places to turn for help, including family, pregnancy centers and counselors.
Good luck and here’s hoping 2012 is your best year yet.
Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. Reach him at email@example.com. Follow Tri-State news on Twitter at @HMinWV and @HMinPA.
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