Kindness counts most at Christmas

Published 6:47 am Wednesday, December 20, 2023

By Jan Penton-Miller

This most wonderful time of the year can be a challenge to those who are missing a loved one,  are low on funds, are in a new city, or have regrets over life choices which left them estranged from those they love. 

The list goes on and on. I think the answer to the Christmas doldrums that almost everyone experiences from time to time is to count our blessings and reach out to bless others.    

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I don’t want to sound preachy, but what we focus on looms large. 

If we focus on what we don’t have or mistakes of the past it can take our joy away. And we can all agree that everyone wants to be happy, especially at Christmas. There are endless opportunities to share a little love with people all around us, and that is a wonderful antidote for paying too much attention to ourselves.     

With all the rushing around and shopping I  missed taking time to look for someone to bless this year. Fortunately for me, an opportunity hit me smack in the face so it was difficult to ignore. 

The details don’t matter, but it was such a sweet time for me. All my family got involved, and the real blessing came to us. It caused us to focus on what Christmas is really all about. Even though we know and try to remember the reason we celebrate actions truly do speak louder than words.     

Even the smallest kindness benefits the giver and the one on the other end. I’m so happy that we made this sweet memory together as a family. It caused me to slow down and think of other little kindnesses I can show, and they don’t always evolve money. I think sometimes we forget that kindness is free. 

My littles and I always baked cookies to give to new neighbors, and I believe that’s one reason I have been blessed with truly some of the kindest adult children on the planet. Just a word to young parents here, those little things really do shape a young mind and heart.     

One year when I was small we temporarily lived on a farm near Hattiesburg. I think my dad was doing some summer work because teaching didn’t cut it for a big family on one income. We were on the receiving end of a stranger’s kindness, and it wasn’t even Christmas. 

My mom was in the hospital, and my dad was working long hours trying to keep food on the table. We weren’t very old, and the neighbors noticed. We didn’t even know the ladies, but a couple took time to cook a nice meal for us and bring it over. Before too long my dad realized he needed help and took us to our grandmother’s house, but I still remember those unknown ladies who stepped in to help someone they didn’t know.     

Maybe that’s why I try to look out for people, but at the very least these ladies and their kindness have always been remembered.