Christmas Kindness

It is a quiet/hectic day in Little Egypt. Traffic is backed up in Carbondale…and that is not usually a problem. Markets are full of women and men looking for those last-minute accouterments for their magnificent Christmas Dinners. There is a bit of a frenetic nature to their shopping…as if they do not hurry…the Holiday may transpire without them. Social Distancing has been left by the curbside of Social Expediency. Christmas comes but once a year…but are we ever truly ready…

Reminiscing is enjoyable and comforting. My friend, Steve, purchased a subscription for me to a magazine entitled, Reminisce. I remember celebrating Christmas at the annual Building Services Christmas Party during the late 1970s’. There was our superintendent, Mr. O’Hara, who was a person who I desperately wanted to please by doing good work…especially after he had hired me during the fall of 1978. It was a Potluck Dinner and the Service Employees Union put it on each year. My supervisor, Joe, told me to be careful which coffee urn that I drew my punch from as one of them was spiked…a lot. I happily noticed that he kept returning to the Spiked Urn. I sat among my colleagues and considered how blessed MJ and I were in that I had a job that would turn into my career and the pay and benefits were wonderful for Southern Illinois. We were looking at several days off with pay…and a better bonus could not have been offered. Then I saw a group of executives come in at the back of Muckeleroy Auditorium in the Agriculture Building. It was the Physical Plant Director, Mr. Tony Blass, and the Vice President for Campus Services, Mr. Clarence Dougherty. Mr. Dougherty, known as ‘Doc’ shook the hand of every person in the house…and I was thoroughly impressed. I felt rich beyond measure as a Building Service Worker I for Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale.

Kindness is Christmas…for me. When someone reaches out to me…and I feel their humanity and their concern…I understand the Christmas Spirit…and why Scrooge was so excited when he was given a second chance. The Spirit of Christmas is really in each of our hands…when we outstretch them to our neighbor in need. Christmas is ethereal and solid…it is concept and practice…it is hope and the delivery of that hope…

Many years ago…in our last century…I felt the kindness of a church full of dedicated and hardworking people. MJ and I and Aaron and Jonathon attended the Christmas Eve Service at First Presbyterian Church in Carbondale, Illinois. I had never attended a Christmas Eve Service before. The minister preached a short sermon that was right out of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. The lights were dim…and then they were snuffed out as we sang Silent Night by candlelight. I could see Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit in the corner. Afterward…each smiling face of my fellow Presbyterians greeted me with the words, Merry Christmas, and I knew what the words meant…in my heart.

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