(I get a bit frantic on Christmas Eve and try to fit in every single Christmas movie I might have missed since Thanksgiving. While I find myself watching the Family Channel and Lifetime every night, I sometimes, tragically, forget to watch the classics, such as the authentic versions of A Christmas Carol...not the Susan Lucci or Vanessa Williams or Kermit the Frog ones. I also haven't watched the Natalie Wood Miracle on 34th Street this year. I am THOROUGHLY ashamed of myself for that one. I don't think I deserve to have a Christmas tree!)
However, I also think that I tend to avoid A Christmas Carol because it reminds me of my dad. My dad and I were always very much into watching Christmas movies and not missing a single one. My dad would highlight the specials in the TV Guide so we'd remember to watch or record them. We always watched A Christmas Carol, and as I'm watching this one on AMC right now, I am crying all over the place, because I am remembering my dad and that crazy little Tiny Tim ALWAYS does me in.
Right now, the movie is ending and Scrooge is finally learning the true meaning of Christmas. He realizes that he has a second chance, and is going to keep the spirit of Christmas with him all through the year.
Every so often, and especially during the holidays when I watch seventy-eight different versions of A Christmas Carol, I start to think about how different the world would be if EVERYBODY just made a tiniest bit more of an effort.
A few weeks ago, a story about a chain of people paying for the people behind them at Starbucks made the news all over the place. It's really sweet and cute and is bursting with the Christmas spirit, but wouldn't it be great to hear stories like that on a much grander scale than coffee?
I read this story yesterday and had a very good cry:
Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire
This little boy is going to have a completely different life now because this soldier opened his heart to him. (Sidenote...when I read The Kite Runner a few years ago, I really wanted to go to the Middle East and bring home about ten babies. I'm not exactly sure what I would do with them all, but the idea was in my head for a few weeks after I finished that book.)
I became a monthly donor for St. Jude's Hospital two years ago. Nothing in the entire world makes me as sad as seeing or hearing about sick children. Okay, right now, I have no steady job, and even when I have had steady jobs, they haven't paid much money. I'm really giving them all I can afford to give right now, and I keep getting letters from Marlo Thomas with pictures of sick children telling me how important my gifts are and asking if I can spare some more. It makes me really upset that I can't!
I'm doing all I CAN, Marlo Thomas! And when I come into more money, I will GIVE you more money!
I guess I just get very frustrated sometimes. Because I'm not out there taking in orphans. Or giving millions to cure cancer. Or raising seeing-eye dogs. (I don't know...it sounds like something very important that would take a selfless and special soul to do...! I think my allergies would prevent me from being too successful with that.)
I think everybody needs to care about SOMETHING enough to try to help. I remember reading an article in People magazine about a woman who befriends dogs that are on "death row" for being violent. The following issue featured letters from the editor rolling their eyes at the woman and saying she should care more about PEOPLE and less about dangerous animals. Well, I say, what does it matter? How is showing kindness and humanity to ANY living creature EVER a negative thing? And who is to say that just because she cares about these dogs, she doesn't care about people? (I can speak from experience...many people have argued my vegetarian views, saying I should care more about people than animals. For some reason, there are people who feel it is impossible to care about both.)
I work with the kids of my parish. These are great kids, bu, for the most part, are happy, sheltered kids from nice families. A few weeks ago, we had them all bring in toys to donate for less fortunate children. We then had a wrapping party. (Watching sixth-grade boys trying to wrap gifts is pretty funny.) And, suddenly, there was a whole stack of wrapped gifts under our little Charlie Brown tree...and, wow. To some kids, those gifts will be very special. It means a lot for me to help our kids recognize that they are just as capable of helping others as adults are. I hope they can carry these feelings with them as they grow-up.
So, on this Christmas Eve, I leave you with this...just be nice. Let another car in front of you on the road. Hold the door open for somebody with a baby carriage (or even for somebody without a baby carriage!) Give a dollar to the little boy scouts collecting money outside of the grocery store, and help a clueless lost tourist, before they even have a chance to ask for help!
Perhaps being nice is contagious.
Perhaps one random act of kindness will set off a chain reaction.
Perhaps you will inadvertantly touch a multi-millionaire Scrooge type who will then, in turn, decide to give all his money to charity.
Perhaps you can change the world!
Merry merry Christmas!