Lightening the load

Friday, December 22. By the time this weekend ends, Christmas Day will be here. Some of us will still be frantically shopping today, tomorrow, even as late as Sunday, Christmas Eve. Many of us will be driving long distances on our way to visit family or perhaps heading for a ski resort. In either event, we and our vehicle will contribute to dangerously clogged highways. Others, thousands of us, will fill the nation’s airports, grouching at gate agents and fretting impatiently over inevitable delays and cancellations.

Let’s admit it. We do feel a bit sorry for ourselves at such times. Too much to get done, not enough time, frustrations at nearly every turn. It’s hard to get into the spirit of this season of love and celebration.

Here’s a cure. Let’s gaze directly into the face of the store cashier, bank teller, post office clerk, airport gate agent, grocery bagger, medical care provider, every person we encounter in these stressful days, every one who is employed to serve us, and smile. Acknowledge their humanness. Engage them briefly in conversation. Will they get any time off to spend with their family? Let’s ask. Express our gratitude for their sacrifices for our benefit, and mean it.

The delays and frustrations that plague us in these busy days pale in comparison to the realities facing those who are working specifically to serve our needs, as well as those who will spend their holidays in nursing homes, hospitals and prisons, places they prefer not to be, particularly at this time. With a little effort, we can lighten someone’s load.

And our own.



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