Ah, peace. There have been moments this holiday season that I've experienced some of that peace on Earth.
It's the peace that often comes from receiving and giving that wonderful good will to our fellow men. Here are a few observations I've recorded thus far.
Earlier in the season I received a card from a lovely couple who have befriended me even though I've been a scampering, hard-to-pin-down recipient of their good will. Their interest and continual invitation for fellowship has been a grace to me.
One woman told me she and her friend were trying to perform random acts of kindness throughout December. I imagined them smiling at people, helping someone out with groceries, spontaneously giving another a stocking stuffer. I visualized their lucky recipients hugging them in excitement or walking away with a warm fuzzy deep inside.
And then there was the "Home for the Holidays" Chattanooga Symphony & Opera concert. Before it began, I stood in the vestibule with a few strangers. One turned to me and gave me a delightful compliment on my appearance. She didn't know I was wearing a dress I'd had for years and that I had accessorized to help bring back its glory days. I reveled in her words. The concert itself was full of beautiful music, humor, warm colors, sing-along caroling and a friendly, huggable Santa who let me pull his beard afterward to see if it was real.
I'm now thinking ahead. One friend finds the racial divide that our culture still struggles with unfortunate. He recently took me and another friend to visit a church in North Georgia where he's made fast friends with the Hispanic pastor. There we sat in the bilingual service, three large African Americans in a sea of Latino faces. They were all smiling at us, it seemed, and we felt strangely at home with them.
What would happen if we deliberately crossed racial, religious and socio-economic lines this season to simply speak a word of goodwill to our brothers, he wondered. What peace!
How do we bring that peace into the parts of the holidays we would love to skip over? You may wish you could hibernate and come out in the spring because certain dear ones won't be celebrating with you this year, or maybe you can predict the inevitable family drama that seems to repeat itself year after year like a stiff joint that signifies a coming rain.
As your own personal diversion, perhaps you can focus on a fun surprise for someone that can help shift your focus. For instance, you may put energy into cheering someone up who is having a difficult time, sending someone far away a care package or fleshing out a deliberate act of kindness for someone you may not even care much for. In these ways, you may help to lift their spirits while keeping your own spirit focused upward and outward and full of promised goodwill.
Tabi Upton, MA-lpc is a therapist at CBI Counseling Center. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.