Holiday virtues tossed to the curb as we venture into the new year
Leighton Costanzo CONTRIBUTOR
Mere days into 2019, the tearfully sentimental time-honoured melody of “Auld Lang Syne” still resonates in our ears, and yet everyone has already forgotten their childlike enthusiasm for the holidays and genuine acts of goodwill toward others. As we transition back, our very actions (or lack thereof) suggest that we have forgotten the reason why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. We celebrate Christmas every year to commemorate the birth of Christ — our Lord and Saviour — who died on the cross for our sins after dedicating his whole life to serving others. With this in mind, it seems like only yesterday that we wished others well, helped strangers with their parcels, went out of our way to find special gifts for loved ones, sent Christmas cards to friends and family, donated to food banks, and gave freely to sidewalk Santas collecting for the Salvation Army. These acts of generosity profoundly impact the lives of others. However, such thoughtful gestures have already begun to show signs of fading away as the holiday season winds down.
Sadly, by early morning on New Year’s Day, the mirth of Christmas has already disappeared and most holiday virtues have been tossed to the curb along with the Christmas tree — thrown away like the crumbled-up boxes and packages that held such anticipation, wonder, and joy only days before. It seems to me that January 1st is the universal expiry date for all Yuletide gaieties. If your Christmas tree is still twinkling in your window and spreading its message of good cheer into the new year, then it will probably be frowned upon by passers-by. You may ultimately be considered a social misfit for not conforming to this unofficial “cease and desist” in which you must strip your home of all happy holiday remnants to erase any reminder of the times we celebrated life with cheerful abandon and love for one another!
All too soon it is “out with the old and in with the new.” Baking, decorating, and eating holiday cookies are “out” and too quickly replaced with new “in” diets and exercise regimes. Unwanted Christmas presents are packed away for re-gifting or consigned to the basement where they await the next garage sale purge. It is that melancholy time of the year when friends and family begin to dwindle apart to casually resume their independent lives and busy work schedules until next December. Much to the delight of penny-pinching Scrooges, the season of giving is finally over. This means only one thing for the needy. Food banks will experience deficits, homeless shelters will be pushed from our thoughts, and the poor will once again become invisible, neglected, and ignored.
For some reason, everything today seems to have a shelf life, including the concept of service, or practicing goodwill to others. I fail to understand why it is no longer expected of anyone to be hospitable, kind, or charitable after the holidays. We give, share, and care for an entire month but then all of a sudden, we just… stop. We stoically shut down once the new year reigns in. Our hearts once flowing with the warmth of love and kindness in December, inexplicably become clogged and frozen over with indifference in January. In a 2014 address to the Italian Pro-Life movement, Pope Francis alluded to this disturbing trend: “Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a ‘throwaway’ culture which is now spreading.”
So how can we keep the spirit of Christmas going throughout the new year? It is simple. Volunteer, share your gifts and talents with others, and lend a helping hand whenever possible. I implore you to make two New Year’s resolutions instead of one. The first resolution should focus on self-growth and the second should focus on making the world a better place.
The holiday season may be over, but it is our duty to ensure that the spirit of Christmas extends throughout the new year and becomes an everlasting year-round tradition. Christmas festivities are only intended to be seasonal, but spirited acts of kindness are meant to be eternal.
Therefore, I challenge everyone to always keep the season of goodwill in your heart and continue to look out for one another. Try to incorporate a bit of excitement and joy into your day and improve the lives of those around you by giving, sharing, and caring whenever possible. Take time to celebrate the significance of family, friends, good food and drink, and the ability to love and to laugh with each new day. I wish everyone many prosperous days ahead filled with much joy and anticipation for all of life’s indulgences both “merry and bright.” So, pay it forward. Care. Share. Be compassionate and kind. Sacrifice, love, and laugh with your whole heart every day, and you’ll get back what you give in 2019. Now that’s a bargain you just can’t afford to pass up this year! Always remember that love, compassion, and kindness can be recycled into acts of “goodwill toward others” with memorable and rewarding results all year long.