With the upcoming holidays, as we all celebrate our separate faiths and traditions, it is also an opportunity to take the time to look in on others. As we have fun and celebrate with our family, friends, and loved ones, it is also important to be considerate of the hard time others may be experiencing during the holidays.
The holidays can be excruciating for some of those among us.
Not everyone has the same cheery outlook or joyous smile that you may have during this time of the year. If you take the time to listen to their stories, it is easily understood why they are sad during what you would think would be a time of celebration.
Some of you are going to think, how can someone not be happy during the holidays? It’s a joyous time, the best time of the year. I’ll give you a few examples to answer your question. During the holidays, a family found out that their child was killed while serving their country in the military. Every time this season comes around, it is a reminder of a life lost too soon to a war. Another family lost their father to a bout with cancer during this time. A mother lost her child on Christmas day. Someone else lost their entire family to an automobile accident, and this is the first holiday season without them. There are numerous other stories similar to these.
For some of us the holidays are a time to give thanks, open presents, and be around family.
It’s that last part that some people have trouble with. For some, this time may be a reminder of the family that isn’t there with them. It’s a reminder of the tragedy that may have taken a loved one much too soon. It’s a reminder of the pain and heartache that comes with loss. For some, these holidays bring on a flood of grief.
I’m going to relay a story to you.
It was Christmas day. An older man, Mr. Doe (name has been changed to protect his identity), was dealing with the loss of his wife and child. He was alone in his house, the house he lived in with his family, and sat in his favorite chair crying to himself. A kid from the house next door knocked on his door. Earlier in the day that kid had asked his father about their neighbor. He told his father he hadn’t seen Mr. Doe in a while, and he wanted to know if Mr. Doe was alright. The kid’s father told him that their neighbor was probably okay, and he told him a story about their neighbor.
A few days before Christmas last year, before their family moved into their home, Mr. Doe lost his wife and child in a car accident. Their neighbor was in his early forties. The previous month would have been the twentieth wedding anniversary of Mr. Doe and his wife. Their daughter, their miracle baby was only three. After hearing the story, the kid realized that he didn’t want his neighbor to feel alone, so he went and knocked on his front door. When Mr. Doe answered the kid invited him over to his house to join his family for Christmas dinner. The kid told him it wasn’t much, but he shouldn’t be alone on Christmas. The man started to break down and cry as they spoke at the door. He thanked the kid, asked him to thank his parents for their generosity, but he declined.
The kid went home and told his dad what happened. He asked his father to prepare two plates of food, and this made his father very proud. He explained that his neighbor couldn’t be alone on Christmas, it just wasn’t right. He saw the pain in Mr. Doe’s eyes, and he wanted to make sure he had a home cooked meal. He knew his neighbor would like his mom’s cooking. The dad followed his request. He made his son two generous plates of food, and his son took them to his neighbors’ door.
As the kid left, the father told his wife what had just transpired and he beamed with pride for their son. When Mr. Doe answered the door, the kid asked if it was okay if he came in and joined Mr. Doe for dinner. The kid opened one of the plates of food and told him, “You’ll love my mom’s cooking. No chef on this planet can touch her cooking”. The food smelled so good that the man invited the boy in. The two of them sat in front of Mr. Doe’s television eating silently and watching college football. Eventually, the man began to talk to the boy. He pulled out a picture book and showed the kid pictures of his wife and daughter. Hours later when the kid returned home, Mr. Doe thought to himself, that he had just had the best dinner since his wife passed and child away.
The next day Mr. Doe happened to see the boy’s father. He called him over and thanked his profusely. The boy’s dad told Mr. Doe over and over that it was no problem. He told Mr. Doe his son actually had a good time in there with all the stories he shared with him. The father even thanked Mr. Doe for one of his son’s best Christmas’ ever. His son learned a lot about what the holidays really meant. Mr. Doe’s expression turned deadly serious. He extended his hand to shake the dad’s hand. They shook hands, but Mr. Doe didn’t let go. He said to the dad, “I don’t think you truly understand how thankful I am for your son. Before I answered the door to your son and his plates of food, I had a gun in my hand. I was contemplating taking my own life to join my family in Heaven. I am no coward, but the grief and longing for them was getting to me. It was becoming unbearable. That is, until your son came knocking with your wife’s delicious food. Your son saved my life yesterday. Please, don’t tell him, but I had to tell you. You raised him right. Thank you!” The dad and the man hugged before the man walked away.
There was no tit for tat. There was no gift. There was no reason for doing what the kid did except because it was the right thing to do. Remember that as you check in on your neighbors, friends, and loved ones this holiday season. Maybe, even a stranger or two.
The holidays can be a time of great sadness, sorrow, and grief.
Take the time to hug others who are having a difficult time this season. Show them comfort and compassion. You may even consider inviting them in to your home to be with your family, so they do not spend this time alone. Bring them a meal, sit with them, and talk. You may not even have to talk. It may be as simple as just watching the game with them, so they know they are not alone. It could mean everything to them if they have someone thinking about them.