Sparkling bright lights shine in neighborhoods across the city. Happy hearts beat in anticipation as bows are peeled from packages. Loved ones reaffirm their booster status before big hugs of reunion.
So much joy. And for many, so much sadness.
Silent sorrows, surprise spikes of grief, or deep depression can befall us even as the universe implores us to deck the halls and be jolly.
Lonely moments can strike in the middle of the office party or simply sitting with our siblings. As we look back on the year, we might question whether or not we have really made a difference, done enough, or even mattered. It’s no wonder that the move It’s a Wonderful Life is a holiday classic.
Jimmy Stewart plays the suicidal man who is shown how the world would have been different if he had not been born. Unlike the movie star, my friend Lorraine’s husband, Thom, didn’t get to hear Clarence the angel tell him how his life impacted countless others. She wrote in his recent obituary:
Thom never considered himself a big success., always regretting that he didn’t land that
high-paying job somewhere.
I hope Thom was listening when his high school buddy got up to speak at his memorial service. He hadn’t kept close touch with Thom over the years, but he had three remembrances.
–Thom introduced him a girl with whom he would enjoy decades of happiness.
–When he was unemployed, Thom helped him to get a job selling shoes. It led to hishighly successful career in sales.
–Thom shared his love of jazz, which became a lifelong passion for his friend.
Each of these small acts from some 60 years before the story was told. I couldn’t help but think back on the countless others who made a world of difference to me through actions I suspect they thought insignificant.
Margaret Weber, who baked birthday cakes to protect my sibs and me from the sting of poverty. Sister Leodegaard. who once gave me candy from the top shelf in the back of my second-grade classroom. Mybearded midwestern sociology professor Peter Conrad who was the first person I knew who meditated every day and told me “You should go to the coast for law school.”
I still like to pack a candle in my purse if a birthday is near to ensure people are celebrated. I will always remember how kindness can be salve for shame. I will never underestimate the power of a single sentence to change the trajectory of a life.
I hope Thom can see that he had a wonderful life. I hope you see that you’ve had a wonderful year. Thank you for helping make mine so.
Is there someone you want to let know that they made a difference in your life?
What small acts by others have influenced your life?
How will you remember that what you say and do matters?