Monthly Archives: December 2019

a buck and change

Like clockwork, I went to his convenience store for coffee this morning. Eric was there as he is every dark and early morning of the overnight shift. I only spent a buck and change but today I got an earful in return.
It started with me sharing memories of the holiday I spent with my grandkids in Florida. He smiled and nodded as though he understood as he listened but I quickly found out that wasn’t so. I asked Eric his plans for this socially distanced holiday since we’ve been on a first name basis for over a year now. He said he has a grown daughter and granddaughter in L.A. he’d like to see but hasn’t in many years. No bad blood he’s aware of, just a disregard and disinterest in their very lonely dad and grandpa. He makes attempts to contact at any shred of an opportunity, sends cards, gifts and cash on every occasion without acknowledgement and he’s at a loss of what more to do but to accept the loneliness of the holiday despite how desperately he wants to share it with them.
I smiled because I did understand and with coffee in hand, I wished him Merry Christmas despite knowing it would not be, and the next customer walked in as I walked out.
There are lots of Erics out there at this time of year while the rest of us are rejoicing and rejoining with our loving families. For them, social distancing is nothing new. Today I left Eric a warm loaf of my famous blueberry banana nut bread on the counter with a card that read: “In today’s world, Eric, we’re all family and brother, I really enjoy spending a little part my mornings with you over a cup of coffee. Merry Christmas.”
If you want to leave a truly unforgettable mark on someone’s life this Christmas, be the family they need, listen and capture their stories and maybe an opportunity to merry their Christmas a little. They’re invisible and right in front of you every day, usually for just a buck and change.

Peace on Earth?

Peace on earth?
We wish it in greetings of prose and song this time each year but is it really still possible or just a relic of holiday grammar; an empty, outdated hope from simpler safer times of long ago? Giving up on peace would be a resignation of hope and I don’t think most of us are ready for that just yet.

Nowadays it seems more believe in Santa Claus than believe peace on earth is genuinely attainable. It sounds warm, lovely and hopeful like many season’s greeting cards but is just as quickly quashed by the next hostile news report, shooting, act of war or other global mayhem across the pond or more recently in our own backyards.
I, for one, believe peace on earth is still possible because peace on earth isn’t static but rather a movement.

Abandon the seemingly impossible thought of global peace and view it as a series of individual efforts, consistent and connected, moving the cause forward, if but an inch with each deliberate effort. By definition, movements move. They seek momentum. They don’t stop and can’t stop. Those who pay it forward do so in small, imaginable, deliberate ways, not because of a season or words on a greeting card.

Peace is the easing of pain, the healing of wounds, the comfort of the afflicted. Peace is a warm coat, a hot meal, a ride to the store or a touch for the untouchable. We can do peace. Each of us can be peace to another. Peace on earth is the selfless sacrifice of effort. Selfish people rarely have it because they rarely give it, leaving it up to the rest of us to keep the ball rolling.
At this time of year of more selfish indulgence than any other, peace-full people make the extra effort not to just give it away but to pass it on like the gift it is. Stories of individual and family gives, abandons of conformity to the holiday commercialization and spontaneous ensembles of strangers uniting for the purpose of sharing with the impoverished abound.

Peace on earth is deliberate.
It doesn’t ride in on political coattails. It doesn’t take up residence in a heart of good intentions. It can’t be legislated, mandated or lightly accommodated and rarely arrives in waves of mass conviction. Peace on earth is a deliberate movement beginning with a single act of goodwill never bound to a time of year.

Peace on earth is a commitment.
Truth is, when the holiday season ends, so does much of the giving. Corporate giving reduces when PR opportunities are fewer and drops in individual giving follow, justifying their inaction by any excuse. But authentic movements of peace don’t slow or stop simply because the season is over. It never lacks resources. It doesn’t take a break. It continues to move. It has to.

Very soon, the celebration will be over, but the cause of peace will go on, feeding the hungry, warming the cold and serving the neglected—with or without you—albeit with less momentum, but never lacking intention or purpose.

At this time and at all times, our wish must be: Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. Don’t give up the hope. We can get there. Vow with me to do your part to keep the momentum of peace going all year long and well into the new year.
Peace is a verb looking for you, we and us, the pronouns needed to keep it going.
It’s much too soon to give up on this world of ours or this season of peace.