Monday, April 21, 2014
On the eve of Christmas, let us hope and pray that Santa delivers these special gifts for Mainers.
A year not of selfishness but selflessness; not of greed but generosity; not of “It’s all about me” but “It’s all about ME.”
A legislative session of comity, not comedy; of politeness not partisanship; with leadership that unites us, not divides us.
Political campaigns that inspire us rather than insult us, that leave us better educated, not disgusted.
We yearn for less poverty and more prosperity; for one state, not two; for jobs, not unemployment; for a return of our children, for health care for all, for caring and sharing communities.
We see and love the beauty of our state and wonder why so many have to suffer so much. Many of us turn to our faith for answers, especially on Wednesday when some of us celebrate the birth of the most giving person ever to walk on our planet, Jesus Christ.
We are grateful that Black Friday is behind us, that the frenzy of Christmas consumption is almost over, that we can finally focus on the true meaning of Christmas. For my family — and yes, we love to give and receive gifts — the opportunity to gather and share this day is truly special. I hope you have friends and family to gather with as well.
Several years ago, our family began a tradition that grows more meaningful every year. Each of us designates a charity and all the others donate to that charity in the name of the designee.
The charities have ranged from local food banks to the orphanage in India that delivered a cherished young grandson to us four years ago. Writing those checks gives me a thrill that is hard to describe. It is, definitely, far better to give than to receive.
The generosity demonstrated year after year through our church and community “giving trees” is wonderful. I hope you participated this year. The requested gifts are often very modest.
I have written Christmas columns in the past about our son Josh’s work for My Brother’s Keeper in the Brockton, Mass., area. Volunteering there at Christmas time is a special privilege. Throughout the year, Keeper — entirely privately funded — delivers whatever people need, from food to furniture.
At Christmas, the program really shines in those homes that have little or nothing to celebrate. Last year, more than 3,000 volunteers turned out in December to work in Keeper’s large facility, selecting, wrapping and delivering gifts to meet — and exceed — the modest requests received.
The numbers are amazing: 2,725 families received these gifts of love, 10,817 children and adults in 76 towns. If you want to be uplifted today, check out Keeper’s website at www.mybrotherskeeper.org. And if you receive money under your Christmas tree, consider sharing some of it with the Keeper — or a charity in your neighborhood.
This past year, I dropped out of some organizations whose work I value in order to focus our contributions on those in need. There are a lot of needy people in Maine. The column I wrote a while back about the needy and greedy seemed to strike a cord all over the state. Most agreed that we must not fail to help the needy because a few people are greedy.
Many of us, blessed by, if not wealth, enough money to live comfortably, eventually reach the age at which the accumulation of things comes to an end. Linda and I are there now. We have been, in the past six months, weeding out. I can’t tell you how many things, discovered in the attic, led me to ask Linda, “Why did we keep this?”
I finally have recognized that I have enough guns, too much fishing gear, far too many works of art and books — but honestly, it is painful to part with them. Yet I have begun “sharing” some with others, from Goodwill to friends, family members and neighbors.
It gave me an especially good feeling to give some deer hunting books to nearby youngsters who love to hunt. And of course, I probably have overwhelmed my grandsons with outdoor gear and books!
Yes, I know the chances of my Christmas wishes being granted are as remote as the possibility that Santa Claus will be able to slide down my chimney tonight. So my real wish — the one I hope and pray is possible for you — is a Christmas Day that is merry and bright.George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.