This year, reach out to friends, neighbors in need

A week from now the packages will have been opened, the excitement in the eyes of the 4-year-olds will have waned, many Christmas trees will be out on the curb waiting to be recycled and another Christmas will be a memory. Like all the moments of our lives, Christmas comes and goes quickly. Here one moment, gone the next. Surely there is a big lesson here.

We are so future-oriented, always anticipating tomorrow. And we are also past-oriented, remembering yesterdays with joy and grief. And after all that thinking and remembering and anticipating, the moments continue to come and go, oh so quickly.

As I sit here writing this column, I see the snow piling up in our yard. It lies heavily on our pine trees and continues to fall as it will for the rest of the day. The schools closed yesterday at noon leaving teachers and students free to work or play at home today. The roads are quiet. Only those who must are traversing their icy surfaces. Today is a moment . . . just a tiny moment in our lives. But it is a lovely, quiet, peaceful moment for me.

Across the street a neighbor might not be having a peaceful moment. Maybe she is worried about a sick child or a huge bill that she can’t pay. Maybe he was laid off and has no clue how he will support his family. For him or her, the moment is not so peaceful. Same town, same day, different situations.

Our challenge is to be sensitive. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, being sensitive to those who are in pain can result in our reaching out to a neighbor or to a homeless person curled up on a street corner hoping for a handout. Ours is not to judge anyone but just to be sensitive and compassionate. As you open gifts next week, celebrate with family, eat a delicious meal prepared by many hands, and sip hot cocoa in the evening be aware that others are having difficult moments and reach for a phone or walk across the street to a neighbor in pain. This is, after all, what the day is really all about . . . love.

A woman said to me a few days ago that her mother is driving her crazy repeatedly asking her what she wants for Christmas. The mom just wants to give her child, now an adult, a gift. The daughter who most likely has some grievances with her mom sees it as a nuisance. I told this woman that I would give anything to have my mom calling me everyday to see what she could give to me for Christmas. She heard me. “Maybe I should be grateful I have her,” she said. “I think I will ask her to give me a gift from” is an organization that provides gifts of animals, knitting equipment and other choices all destined to become the means by which a family can earn money. Last year we gave my brother a pig through That pig provided income and protein to a family in need. It is not too late to look hard at those family members who get on your nerves and ask yourself how you will feel when they are no longer here. It is not too late to give the gift of a pig or bees to a family in need of income or food. It is also not too late to invite a lonely neighbor in for coffee or Christmas dinner.

Make this Christmas moment one to remember with joy.

Mary Friedel-Hunt, freelance writer, publisher (Voice of the River Valley) and a licensed clinical social worker, has been a psychotherapist for 32 years. Her column runs weekly in Faith & Values. You may contact her by writing to: P.O. Box 189, Lone Rock, WI. 53556.