Holiday Spirit

I was at my desk deeply absorbed in a project, when a sulfur-like smell seeped through the cracks in the floor.  I sniffed the rest of the house and everything seemed fine.  Until two hours later, when I was sitting in the living room talking with my family and the smell interrupted our conversation.  My husband went down to check the basement and promptly let out a few expletives and screamed, “Turn off the heat!” Flames had overtaken the furnace… “Do not turn the heat back on until we have this fixed,” warned the heating and plumbing guy.  “Your furnace is cracked and just missed exploding.”
Yes, I know we are so reliant on our electronics and appliances.  We all complain how we go nuts when our cell phone or tablet dies, or when we have no way to get plugged in.  But we are thrown into a much more primal tizzy, awaking our deepest survival instincts, when our basic needs – dependent on modern mechanics – are not met.  While it wasn’t icy out, it was cold.  We took our kids to a hotel that evening.  I spent the entire night tossing and turning, worrying about how I would fulfill my work deadline that coming Tuesday, the same day the new, very costly furnace would be installed.

There were about twelve hours of self absorbed stress and feelings of overwhelm, and then it happened.  The outpouring of help and concern from our friends, got through to me.   The frantic survival instinct melted into deep feelings of peace.  “Take our space heater,” “Why don’t you all spend the night,” “Anything you need,”  “Dinner, a warm bed.”  We stayed up in people’s kitchens, sipping wine, eating left-overs, lighting Hanukkah lights with their extended families.  We were homeless, and yet more connected than I had felt in weeks.  The need for survival brought out people’s deepest truth – their love and altruism.We are a disconnected society, connected mostly through our devices, computers, tweets.  But when the real need for community surfaces, it’s amazing to find it is still there.  So, let’s make it a goal to find that humanity in ourselves even when there is no power outage or mechanical crisis.  Holiday time is as good as any to start looking for ways to help others, apart from just buying them gifts:

  •  Drop off home baked cookies to someone who doesn’t even expect a gift from you
  •  Lend a space heater
  •  Help a friend clean their clutter
  •  Invite over a family going through a hard time
  •  Build a fire and have friends over for donuts
  •  Send a personal email or letter catching up with an old friend, rather than just a generic holiday card.

Linger just a little longer, sharing a friendly nod, or a smile over a glass of cider.