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Find the Christmas spirit by giving

Charlie Brown found the Christmas spirit in a tattered tree and a stirring Bible-based speech from Linus.

Four-year-old Avery Lewis found the same thing in a local nursing home, just by taking time to make the residents smile.

Others found the Christmas spirit by ringing a brass bell -- even learning to shake out a few lines of Jingle Bells -- in front of Wal-Mart.

If you've missed the spirit this year, here's a hint: It's about giving beyond the confines of your home, your family, your comfort zone.

Just a few weeks ago, as Thanksgiving passed, we took the opportunity to be grateful for what we have, the opportunities before us and those dreams that have come true in our lives.

Now, we have the opportunity to fulfill others' wishes. Whether it is a child who just wants a Barbie doll and a Lite Brite, a mother looking for a warm meal for her children or a family hoping for a roof over their heads for the holidays, there isn't a shortage of needs to fulfill.

Take time this week to step out of your comfort zone. Whether you stop by The Mirror and take an angel off the tree, drop off a new, unwrapped toy at the Thomson Boys and Girls Club or make a donation to Agape Ministries, do something.

Give something.

In the process, you'll find that spirit and, maybe, show it to someone in need.

Meanwhile, take pride in knowing you are probably ahead of my parents in the decorating race. You can't walk through their den because of the overflowng plastic totes.

How can I say this nicely? My mother is a little, um, "focused" on decorating for Christmas. It's gotten so bad over the years that their next door neighbor -- Amazing Al, the heroic handyman -- built an extra shed in Mom and Dad's back yard. It's sole purpose is to house trees, ornaments, wreaths -- all sorts of holiday knick-knacks.

Each year, in the weeks following Turkey Day, my father and I load tote after tote into a cart and put them on the back porch. Mom spends the next few days (or weeks) taking everything out of the totes and decorating the house.

And, of course, it looks wonderful. Inside and out, the Ware Street home I grew up in exudes Christmas. My father beams with pride amidst the decorating grumbles and Mom smiles with satisfaction despite the long nights of tree-trimming.

In the next few weeks -- trust me, they'll keep it decorated until mid-January -- take a few minutes and drive by the Smith house. And if you see Pete or Millie, sympathize with them. It's already been a long holiday season and there are still totes that need to be unpacked.

I'm just glad they abandoned the icicles light that I nearly died a couple of times trying to hang a few years ago. You know, a person of my, ahem, stature should not be climbing on top of houses. Gravity is never in that giving of a mood.

Merry Christmas, everyone.



Web posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2003











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