We can help others survive with dignity

We can help others survive with dignity

By LIZ THOMPSON, DAY BY DAY
Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 10:21 AM EST
Suburban News Publications

Winter is upon us. Most trees have given up their leaves that we have raked and blown to their various resting places.

At the base of one of the barren rose bushes was a shock of red. Looking closer, I saw it was one of those pesky maple tree upstarts. It had two large leaves that were a brilliant red. I wondered how it had survived my weeding.

We are all survivors, in our own right. We are not so different from the baby maple tree tucked in the corner of my garden. Like most people, I want to do more than merely survive — I want to thrive and enjoy the life God gave me. I want my days to count for something in the short time I am here. Days blend into days, and before I know it, another year is gone. I look back on the spent months without regret, but think of important tasks left undone.

As another Christmas time draws near, we are decorating our homes and shopping for the special people in our lives. Even though the politically correct saying is “Happy Holidays,” I say “Merry Christmas.” I want my year to end with meaning.

I will bake and share because doing so reminds me of my roots. My mother, grandmothers and aunts baked their special cookies at Christmas. I will knit gifts because the women in my life did the same, and now my daughter and granddaughter are doing the same. While I prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I will keep my spirits light. Frenzy should not enter my days. Time spent with loved ones will hold joy.

When the gifts are opened and we are stuffing the wrappings into garbage bags, the cookies are all eaten and we have a week of leftovers, what’s next?

Today, there are neighbors left wanting for necessities in a time of almost unprecedented unemployment and other unforeseen circumstances. Jesus started in a humble dwelling being born in a stable surrounded by barn animals. Christmas is a season of hope.

Many people open their hearts and use their resources to help others. The blowing snow reminds us, too, of the need for warmth. In Grove City, Wieging Chiropractors is collecting clothing for a family in which the grandfather is raising his five grandchildren. Pinnacle Dental is collecting coats for the needy — one family of seven purchased a table full of coats instead of exchanging gifts. The YMCA crochet class made warm hats and scarves for the needy.

In Delaware, Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church adopted Woodward Elementary School. They are purchasing basic clothing and shoes these children need.

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church collected money to purchase 518 coats for children in need at Highland Elementary on the Hilltop and in the Hilliard school district. A Girl Scout troop made 30 hats, a woman in Michigan made more than 300 scarves and others donated warm accessories to go with the coats.

Unfortunately, the needy may always exist. The good news is we can make a difference when one by one we act with love. We can give people hope to survive with dignity. Just like the upstart maple tree in the corner of my garden.

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