Christmas is here again and I’m sitting here reflecting on the past month and savoring every last drop of Christmas spirit before it is over for another year. I decided in November to dedicate this Christmas season to being better at serving others around me and being more mindful of my influence in others lives. Instead of committing to do a specific act of service every day (I knew I would cave as soon as I missed a day) I wanted to simply try and get into the habit of always paying attention to how I could help others.
This month has been interesting because of it. I am not going to lie, I could have been much more dedicated and put much more time into it, but I feel that I reached my goal of just being more aware. It has led me to have many big and small good experiences that have especially lead me to appreciate the mere effort and sweat of doing something for others.
We began the month by baking a big batch of cookies and giving them away to our neighbors. I imagined Sophia and I having an idyllic afternoon in the kitchen, Silent Night playing in the background, as we laughing and singing prepared the treats to give away. Our afternoon didn’t quite turn out that way but I am so glad for the effort I put into attempting to involve my daughter in service. By the end of the day I was rewarded by her good attitude in excitedly leaving all the little bags of cookies outside each of our hall mates’ doors. It made it all worth it.
Although I’m not sure she quite understood what we were doing (she looked really confused when we returned to our apartment empty-handed) or necessarily had any sort of warm feeling inside, I know that she got to practice giving something that she truly appreciated away.
A couple of weeks later we gave away more cookies to a homeless man outside our local grocery store. The episode wasn’t exactly Youtube material, no one cried or hugged. He simply said “Thank you, God bless” and I walked away and for all I know he may have gotten another Christmas treat that he liked better later. But it was such a lesson to me to have spent the time baking those cookies, packing them, walking every one of steps that only grew heavier with anticipation to finally shyly hand them over to a stranger.
Especially having to do those things with a two-year-old in tow has made the effort itself a bit heavier than usual. Or rather, it has emphasized the effort.
Oh Come all ye Faithful is my favorite Christmas hymn. Usually, because it describes my favorite part of the nativity, when the shepherds in the field are invited by multitudes of singing angels to go and see the little baby who is the Lord Jesus Christ. And because it is so happy. But this year I feel that I can better relate to the part about being faithful, joyful and triumphant. I am sure there was a reason why the angels ministered to the shepherds in the field. We don’t know anything about these specific shepherds, but I can guess that they for one were humble people, happy with their lot in life. They also were among the only people who were still awake at night and may even have seen the star signaling the birth of Christ. Eventually, we also know that they didn’t linger. They went to see the child as soon as they were encouraged to.
Faithful, joyful and triumphant is exactly how I feel after a month of focusing on my ability to serve others. Faithfulness from the commitment itself, joyful especially when the work is done. Triumphant is what has stood out to me though. Triumphant because I can feel how it has slowly and tentatively pushed me in the direction of becoming a better person. Triumphant because of how I have managed to involve my daughter and hope to see her learn from it. Triumphant because I can feel how it has made me feel more willing and excited to leave behind my occupations and comforts to go and indulge in the presence of someone who can make me a truly better and happier person.