Happy Holidays! How many times have you said that?
It just comes out naturally – to store clerks, to the kid filling your fast-food order, to the mailman, to people passing by in the mall.
And of course, they’re smiling in return, wishing you the kindest greetings of the season, as well.
We’re all just doggone warm and fuzzy this time of year, aren’t we?
Besides being cheery and upbeat with everyone we see, we’re also busy collecting toys for kids in tough circumstances, so that they’ll enjoy a wonderful Christmas morning.
Or we’re gathering turkeys for special holiday dinners for the homeless.
It’s all so nice and generous and thoughtful and, well…
And there’s the question mark in all of this kindness.
If you’ll greet strangers at the airport with a smile and a happy “Hello!” during the holiday season, why not do it in March?
Do we need lights and wreaths and candy canes just to be pleasant, caring human beings?
The answer, obviously, is that we shouldn’t.
If someone has lost a job or endured some other run of bad luck, sure, it’s nice that we volunteer to help serve them a meal on Thanksgiving.
Likewise, it’s a decent gesture to donate to the Salvation Army – so that somewhere down the line, a child living below the poverty line might get a good, warm jacket for school.
Clearly these all are worthwhile gestures, the type of things that people who have been fortunate ought to do as a matter of everyday decency.
But there are your key words: Every. Day.
If you stop to think about it at all, where’s the sense in being a caring, generous, pleasant soul from Thanksgiving through the beginning of January – then turning around to become a busy old Grinch the rest of the year?
This phenomenon of temporary civility isn’t limited to individuals acting cheery as they stroll down Poyntz Avenue, either.
Did you notice how world leaders forgot all their bickering and became downright civil during the mourning period for South African icon Nelson Mandela?
No one argued about political systems or border rights or trade embargoes as the world came to grips with the loss of an incredibly good man.
Mandela was all about forgiveness and inclusion, they said, so we should honor that.
Wonderful…but why restrict that type of respect to a couple weeks after someone’s death?
Just like the notion of giving and caring for others during the holidays, shouldn’t we do the right thing – treating others with respect and kindness – as a matter of course?
It seems silly that we need Christmas or a funeral as reminders.