Another List to Check Twice
’Tis the season, and if you’re anything like 9 out of 10 Americans, you’ve already made a list of family and friends to whom you’d like to show a little Yuletide cheer. But have you made a list for the people who fall outside that circle? People whose work makes your life better?
Hey, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush. I do.
But when parents want to raise kids who are giving, charitable and historically informed (watch Linus’ soliloquy in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”), they’ll need to start well before the Christmas tunes hit the airwaves and the sashes go up for Black Friday. Don’t worry, there’s no time like the present to act. Instilling the principles of being charitable starts young and happens often. And, parents, we are the models. We’re all we’ve got.
I’ve settled into the idea over the years that love, forgiveness and charity start with accepting that first offer of a mushy zwieback from your cake-encrusted toddler. That’s when you say, “I love you, too, and I would be delighted to break bread with you in the spirit of good will.” Well, you might not exactly say it like that, but you get the idea. It’s all about teaching the spirit of giving.
And when your child sees you in a gracious moment of accepting that sticky offer of good will, he learns that a little good will goes a long way toward making this world of wonder and misery just a teensy bit more wonderful, even if it starts with one treasured and soggy bite.
Now, lo and behold!, there’s little David or little Emma learning that giving is a good experience. Good for humankind. Good for goodness’ sake. And, miracle upon miracle!, they are pulling the dog’s tail less often, and making a glue-stuck card for their teachers at Christmastime all because you accepted that half-eaten morsel of a beautifully messy gift way back when.
With Christmas comes lots of lists. Lists for Santa to fill. Lists for family and friends. And, most importantly, lists for you and the kids to fill together. Lists that include those peripheral people in your lives who are neither family nor friend but who nonetheless make a positive difference in your family’s well-being.
Our list includes the affable waitstaff at the diner, the artsy barristers at our local cafes, the UPS and FedEx drivers, our friendly neighbors across the street and the ones who live across the river, our diligent mechanics, the cheery post lady, my husband’s barber, who took over her dad’s business with her sister, my hair stylist from the Ukraine, our favorite farmer’s market vendors, the grocer, the pharmacist, our dentist and family doctors, and the family who operates the small farm up the road. Not to mention, the plow guy, the wood guy, and the teen who shovels our walks. Oh, and there’s also the librarian, the clerks at the general store, the town clerk, the plumber, the road agent and the electrician.
These are some of the many people in our lives who make daily life better for us and many others in our community because they are there with their skill and experience when we need them. Let’s not forget the people behind the counter at the local hardware store and the clerks at the bank. They count, too. Who counts in your life? In your child’s life?
Maybe it’s the clergy. Or the delivery person who shows up with your takeout order, even when it’s snowing. The manicurist and the pedicurist. All the teachers. The policemen and firemen in town. The crossing guard who waves you on every morning. The lunch lady. The school nurse. The oil man. The gas-station attendant. The dog walker, the pet groomer and the veterinarian. The baby sitter -- don’t forget to put the baby sitter on your list! All the people you see during the course of the year on a regular basis.
There are lots of them, and Christmas is the perfect time for you and your family to show your appreciation. Find a way that works best for your family.
We all have Christmas lists that include our circle of friends and family members. And so, if you haven’t already, in that same spirit, invite your kids to join you in spreading some Christmas cheer to those who may not be a given, those people who are outside your inner circle and yet are also a part of your daily life.
Whether it means baking something or making something or buying something or singing a carol, or offering a few kind words, or simply saying, “Merry Christmas!,” doing so means you and your family will be extending your good will to the very good people who touch our lives in so many good ways.
Make your list and do check it twice!
Bonnie J. Toomey teaches at Plymouth State University, and writes about writing, learning, and life in the 21st century. You can follow Parent Forward on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bonniejtoomey . Learn more at www.parentforward.blogspot.com or visit bonniejtoomey.com . Email email@example.com .