The grandparents stumble out from the family room, half awake. The fireplace won't light. The spouse opens the traditional Christmas morning box of See's candy and Grandad immediately drops it on the Kirghiz rug. My father-in-law is precisely the reason I bought such a highly patterned rug in the first place. He drops things. Usually glasses of red wine, but boxes of chocolate are a close second. This way, the stains are less obvious, and he doesn't have to feel badly about it, and I can safely serve red wine and chocolate.
After successfully grinding chocolate pastilles that he can't see into the nap of the rug, Grandad delicately places the pink paper crown from his cracker onto his head. Grandma makes rude noises. The kids quiver with excitement. "Carol of the Bells" roars in the background. Someone starts talking about the year I dropped the yule log. I never drop things, so this incident is always brought out and examined with delight.
The fireplace won't light.
I love my family.
Whatever you practice, whatever you preach, even if it's nothing at all, there is always a time to give back, and I'm choosing this time to talk about it. Those of us in the developed world where computers and blogs are a pleasant way of life are blessed with an embarrassment of riches, whether we recognize it or not.
I'm not suggesting that any of us get up tomorrow morning and save the world. I mean, it would be great, and if any of you have the means and wherewithal to do so, please don't hold back. However, I'm very much a pragmatist. So let's start small.
Your assignment for tomorrow: Be nice to someone. Hold the door for the person coming in behind you and smile at them as you make the effort. When the server asks how you are, tell 'em you're great and ask with sincerity, how are they today? Thank the cashier who rings you up, and do it loud enough for her to hear you and smile while you say it. Forget the posturing, and just let the other car onto the freeway.
Yes, we should all be doing this anyway, but how many of us are just distracted enough, or stressed enough or angry enough to sort of conveniently forget? Most of Southern California, from personal observation.
So tomorrow, be nice. Just once. It won't kill you. It might even make you happy. And it tends to be contagious.
Go listen to some good music: "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah from the album Joy to the World by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.