Merry Christmas?

Haven’t much enjoyed the Christmas season for awhile, now. My dad passed away a few days before Christmas, 3 years ago. The kids are all grown and have not yet provided me with little ones to spoil. Those magical moments of buying new toys, fun learning games and adorable clothes are not generally a part of the holiday schedule for me anymore.

In addition, we have the annual outrage. Seeing the media fan the flames of religious zealotry at this time of year, with the never-ending stories of the warring nativity scenes and menorahs on public property and now, even a Festivus pole in Florida! If I see another bumper sticker telling me to keep Christ in Christmas, with a photo of Santa Claus hovering over the baby Jesus in the manger, I’ll just scream. HELLO, Santa Claus is just another fictional character. He is not real.

Last night, on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, he did a story….well, watch for yourself:

REALLY? Those Nimrod’s over at FAUX NEWS are really stirring the pot, while making themselves seem delusional at the same time. Kids, Santa really IS white? OMG.

Tonight, though, I’m feeling quite “Merry.” Wednesday, we attended my daughter’s annual holiday party hosted by The Arc of Bergen and Passaic County.  Fun night, with good food, lots of music and dancing, and acceptance of various disabilities.  At the end of the night, there were booklets passed around with over 400 “Holiday Tags” listing a ‘wish’ of a member of the developmentally disabled community. They were hoping some of us might fulfill a wish, to be wrapped and left at the Arc offices by December 20th for distribution for Christmas.

Looking over these wishes, my heart grew. Sort of like the Grinch’s in that famous Dr. Seuss tale. So many wishes, and just simple things; a warm coat, a pair of slippers, a sweater, a new sheet set, some bath towels, a gift card from a local supermarket, toys and clothing for those in group homes or developmental centers.

Later, we shopped. This felt like Christmases of old, when the kids were young and eagerly anticipated Santa. Toys, adorable clothes, plus the joy of knowing that a developmentally disabled adult will be amazed to get the new blue comforter he’s been wishing for! This shopping did not feel like a chore. It felt joyful. All in all, we were able to fulfill 10 wishes. I hope others have stepped in to help with the other 380 or so.

The past few holiday seasons, my family has tried something different at the holidays. One year we sent a package of ‘wishes’ to a platoon we ‘adopted’ in Afghanistan. The gift requests: soft toilet tissue, soap, shampoo, tampons, deodorant, canned Spaghetti and Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, American snack foods and chocolate bars, protein bars, books, magazines, etc. We wrapped and we packaged with love and joy and gratefulness for these young men and women in a foreign country, wishing for such ‘luxuries’ at Christmas that we all take so much for granted.

Another year, we donated to various charities in our family and friend’s honor, and they were so happy when notified by the charity to not have received a gift that they really didn’t want or need and to see that the money spent was put to a better use. Some of them returned the favor back to us the following year.

This is what holidays should be about. Helping those who are not in a place to buy or to receive a gift, either because they are far from home, or disabled, without family,  the child of a developmentally disabled adult, or in unfortunate circumstances. Most of us have just about everything we want or need, and if we don’t, we buy it for ourselves.

Try not to buy into the media hype surrounding Christmas this year, or the commercial hype urging you to spend, spend and spend some more. Food, toilet paper, even canned Ravioli, is often a miracle for those really needing  hot meal or a clean tush.

This holiday season, check out how good it feels to do for someone who has nothing. It’s the best gift you can give to yourself at the holidays. It makes the season feel joyful. Call your local Arc, your community center, nursing homes or public welfare agency. They are overwhelmed by the need at this time of the year. You won’t regret it.

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