A gift: Be someone’s Christmas joy

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By Melissa Blankenship

I have to admit, I’ve had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year.

Typically I am that annoying person who starts playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving while I put up the tree and decorate the house. Usually, I’ve started Christmas shopping in October and would be pretty much done before Dec. 1. By now my coworkers and friends would be tired of the baked goods and yummy snacks I would have inundated them with on a daily basis.

But this year is not typical for a number of reasons.

First, I started back to a full-time job this fall after working part-time for about seven years. That in and of itself was quite a lifestyle change. Suddenly I have limited time to grocery shop, do laundry, mop floors, pay bills, etc. Let alone get ready for the holidays. (And yes, I realize that sounds pathetic and that most of you work and still get everything done. I’m just still adjusting to my new schedule.)

Secondly, Christmas snuck up on me. Busy with work and with a shorter time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it literally got here faster than I anticipated, so I’m not altogether ready for it.

Lastly, I have been distracted, to put it mildly, with the plight of several close friends who are experiencing serious medical issues – the most serious of health issues. It just seemed incongruous for me to shop till I dropped humming “Jingle Bell Rock,” while people I cared about were scheduling doctor visits and radiation treatments and preparing to endure unimaginable suffering.

It just doesn’t feel right to celebrate while other people are hurting and anxious. My concerns about getting the Christmas cards mailed, buying those last few gifts or baking three dozen cookies simply and unequivocally pale in comparison to their fears and worries.

This time of year is billed as the season of joy, but where is their joy in all of this?

But just this week, it hit me – I can be their joy. I can be a listening ear, a comforting shoulder, a smile and word of encouragement, a prayer warrior, a chauffeur, a soup maker or whatever else they need that I might be able to provide.

Now, I can’t wrap any of that and put a pretty bow on it, but I can give it freely and from my heart and isn’t that exactly what a Christmas present should be?

And I have a feeling that in trying to bring a little joy into the lives of my friends, I might find my Christmas joy as well.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all of you. I hope this season finds you joyful and hopeful for 2014.