It’s the season’s universal conversation starter: “So, what do you want for Christmas?”
I know what I don’t want. I don’t want to repeat the mistake I made the other day when I shoved my car past someone else’s to edge into a scarce parking spot. The woman in the other car threw her hands in the air and angrily swerved her car past mine. I realized “winning” the parking spot wasn’t worth the fury I’d just caused. Especially not in this season.
Our list of things to do and see and buy can make this a demanding, overwhelming, pushy time of the year. But it can also be a peaceful, satisfying time of the year. Watching how others handle it all, it seems what most of us want for Christmas is to do good for others.
We want to be the person who steps up to the checkout counter and lays down the dollars someone needs to finish their purchase.
We want to stock shelves at the food pantry, fill stockings with the stuff generous people bring in, and help customers fill their orders without wondering how they got to the difficult place they’re in. We just want to be that person who smiles at them and cheerfully helps them find what they need.
We want to help someone wrap their presents who hates doing it.
We want to figure out how to fulfill one of those cards hanging on an Angel Tree in the store, knowing we’ll never see that child receive the gifts we buy, and that’s ok.
We want to pay it forward for the people behind us at the fast food window.
We want to hand out a smile to everyone we meet, whether they return it or just stare in puzzled surprise.
We want to shove past the doubt of our singing voice to go caroling with the church group.
We want to take hats and gloves to the local school for the kids who don’t have them.
We want to shovel snow off someone’s driveway.
We want to help an overworked waitress go home happy because of something kind we say or do.
We want to take some neighbor gifts around to brighten their day.
We want to offer a young mom some child care hours so she can shop in peace.
We want to participate in the miracle of stretching what we have to also fill the needs of someone else.
We want to be the reason a tired store clerk who’s been on her feet for hours smiles because of something we say or do.
We want to drop a dollar on the floor of the dollar store where a little kid will find it.
We want to take treats to the emergency workers who give us medical care, and fire and police protection every single day of the holiday season.
We want to be the person who cheerfully calls out “Merry Christmas!” at every opportunity to show our love for the true reason for this season.
We want to return our shopping cart to where it belongs, and pause to personally thank those young people who work like mules to keep an endless supply of carts available.
We want our families to see the good in others, feel the love of the season, and act on it.
We’re not perfect. We make mistakes (like stealing someone’s parking spot). But our natural tendency to do good for others coupled with the spirit of this season helps lift us just a bit to do a little better, try a little harder and make a little difference. We don’t want to be a distraction to anyone’s Christmas experience — we want to be a part of it. We want to inspire people to reflect on the story of a baby boy born in a stable and laid in a manger who came here to save us. It’s a story of endless influence we want to emulate. When we do, it flows back to us.
That’s what we really want for Christmas.