This archived article was written by: Austin Palmer
The best thing about Christmas is the giving spirit so many have at this time of year, despite our religious preference. Most of us college students, however, may be distracted by next week’s upcoming finals or packing for vacations. This is a crazy time in the life of a college student. I would like to persuade you all to take a break from your hectic schedules and see what you can do for others around you this season.
My wife, Natalie, often speaks of her favorite Christmas growing up. It was a hard time for her family. Natalie was 13 years old, the oldest of four children. Her parents were separated and it was the first Christmas they would spend without her father. The kids were discouraged. They had no idea of their mother’s worries who had not yet started receiving child support and only worked part-time as a kindergarten teacher. Money was tight. She managed to save enough to plan for a modest Christmas for the children. The weeks leading to Christmas that year proved to be a blessing for Natalie’s family. There were many acts of service given to them. They would often come home to find their driveway had been shoveled. The people of this community anonymously left gifts and food on their doorstep several times. Their mother always cried tears of joy each time a new act of service was discovered. Natalie often recalls how their tree overflowed with presents that year. There were clothes, toys, games, movies; anything a kid could dream of! They had more than enough food and a wonderful Christmas dinner that night. Although the youngsters delighted in the gifts they received, knowing that there were people out there kind and generous enough to give provided a wonderful example to them.
What they had thought would be a sad, humble time, turned out completely opposite. How did so many people know they needed these things? That is what is so great about living in a small town and this community! You get to know people well and can be in tune with each other’s needs.
The family’s financial situation improved by the next year and from then on, Natalie’s mother insisted that they do things for other families each Christmas after. Each year they would pick a struggling family and do the 12 Days of Christmas, leaving food and other items. Giving to others was a fun experience, and it meant even more to their family, knowing what it was like to receive needed gifts.
I would like to encourage everyone to take a bit of time this season and do something for someone else. It doesn’t have to be grand … maybe shovel someone’s walk, volunteer at a nursing home, or pick a name from the angel tree. The SUN Center has plenty of ideas. Look around you and see what anonymous aid you can give. I guarantee that doing service for others will truly brighten your season and give others memories of a great Christmas. It may even take your mind of finals for a moment.