The holiday season affects everyone differently. I say ‘holiday season,’ as winter is a time when people find joy in many different celebrations: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, winter solstice.
Winter is a time when it becomes easy to call on kindness, when the warmth and comfort of others is never more than a text or a phone call away.
December paints a pretty picture. Strangers pass in stores and joyously bellow the lyrics to Christmas carols together and no one cares if they’re in totally different keys.
People volunteer with charity organizations throughout the community. Everywhere I go, there are people smiling and holding hands. The air itself seems to glimmer with an unseen aura of kinship.
Sometimes I just sit and watch the world in December, taking in the public displays of kindness that coincides with this time of year.
Every year, Dec. 31 rolls over and Jan. 1 rears its head. Decorations are taken down, radio stations switch back over to regular music, and after Boxing Day (or is it Boxing Week now?) is over, the malls are no longer engulfed in a panicked frenzy.
Everything gets quiet.
At first it comes as a pleasant break – each celebration with its own post-holiday indulgences: turkey sandwiches, latkes and blintzes, collard greens and catfish, hot chocolate, and a week off school.
I’ll take it.
Yet, the glimmer is gone. The holiday magic, the fog of joy that sweeps over everything melts away like snow on wet ground.
As holiday trappings are boxed up and tucked away for another year, it seems that many people forget something Ebenezer Scrooge concluded: “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
As winter celebrations draw to a conclusion, it seems sometimes that too much of the good will goes with it. As I toss the last string of brightly coloured lights into my garage (where I will probably trip over them sometime in March), I feel as though I’m putting away a sense of spirit, of joy.
I love witnessing the season and smiling as dozens of simple kindnesses unfold – a door held open, paying for the order for the person behind you in the drive through at Tim’s, secretly buying the meal for the seniors at the table at the back who have shared a lifetime of winters holding one another’s hands.
For me, the holidays aren’t about door crasher savings and mad deals, it’s about small acts of kindness.
I’m not suggesting that humanity goes to hell in a hand-basket after the calendar rolls over, but it’s not hard to see that the holiday season seems to bind people together in a magical sort of way.
I wish this magic lasted all year long.
How hard would it be to volunteer at the food bank in January? Or February? Or July? How hard would it be to call that relative you always forget about and ask about something other than the holidays? You can still shovel the neighbour’s sidewalk in January, it may still snow.
Some of these actions seem more manageable the others. Still, the warmth of the holiday season, the brazen humanity of December, a month where nearly everyone plays a part in creating at least a brief spark of acceptance and love, should last beyond the 31st.
My hope is that come January and beyond, there will be enough holiday compassion left over to fight off the indifference that blows into town with the New Year.
Happiness and joy can be shared no matter the month.
Friendship, family, and community are important 365 days a year.
With those thoughts in mind, I wish you the happiest of holidays.
Marlowe Evans is a senior student at Thomas Haney and head delegate of the Model UN Delegation who writes about youth issues.