It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year; however, I find it more challenging to get in the holiday spirit this year. This classic song by Andy Williams has brought joy and put a smile on my face in years past. The lyrics speak of kids jingle belling, caroling out in the snow, party hosting, mistletoeing, and hearts all aglow when loved ones are near—encompassing many of the things that make the holiday season special. However, this year it is different; this year, the lyrics create different emotions, sadness, and longing as there is a realization that these events will not occur. With the pandemic, many of our holiday traditions and expectations have changed, and at times it has made embracing the spirit of the holiday season difficult.
One of the aspects I look forward to the most during the holiday season is being with loved ones. Holidays have a knack for allowing us to show the people we are closest to how much we care about them. This pandemic has kept loved ones apart for everyone’s safety, and while I know that staying apart is an act of love to keep them safe, I can’t help but miss my family, friends, and normalcy. I will admit that I’ve had to dig deep to find the spirit of the season in 2020. But, I’ve come to realize that perhaps the holiday spirit has not faded; in fact, it may be more vital than ever. I just need to look a little closer.
When I stopped to think about what the holiday spirit is to me, I came up with one fundamental aspect: kindness. To me, it is this single idea of being kind to others that envelopes what the holiday season is all about. It is a time to show compassion, love, and kindness, some of humanity’s greatest gifts. Gifts that often cost us nothing but mean so much.
With the world’s woes always on my mind: rising COVID cases, unemployment rates, climate change, and political and racial tensions across our nation, it is easy to fall into despair. But my spirits are lifted when I hear of extraordinary acts of compassion and kindness. The person who saved all year to buy the latest version of an iPhone only to decide at the last minute to put the cash into a red kettle for The Salvation Army. The neighborhood that celebrated their UPS driver for all that he had done for them, delivering hundreds of packages to allow them to stay safely at home. The essential workers who have selflessly risked their lives to keep the world running and have been there when others need them. The food pantries have seen an unprecedented need in 2020, and yet they rise to the challenge, making sure everyone gets a meal so that they won’t go hungry. The child who lives in poverty but spends his school points, earned for good behavior, to buy a gift in the school store not for themselves, but for a friend. These stories of kindness are where I am finding the holiday spirit this year. They give me hope that there’s still good in this world and that the holiday spirit is still alive and well.
American author Og Mandino once wrote, “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” It is often when times seem their darkest that we see how bright those stars can be. Individuals who show a little kindness throughout the holiday season and beyond are those bright stars in the darkness. I see you, I appreciate you, and you are the light that will show us the way.
So whichever holidays you celebrate, I wish you all the best. It may look different this year, but we can still find the true meaning of the season. We can always strive to make it the most wonderful time of the year by opening our hearts to others in need and giving the gift of kindness. A simple socially distanced “hello” to a neighbor, a donation to a charity, a “thank you” to a stranger, these are all things we can do to lift the spirits of others. Let’s spread kindness this holiday season and beyond into 2021. The world needs it now more than ever. I wish you peace, compassion, and a stocking stuffed with seeds so that you may sow joy in 2021.