The Christmas gift not in short supply

Many people find acts of kindness are not only in abundance, but also better reflect the loving spirit of Christmas.

People ice skate around the Christmas tree at the Natural History Museum in London in December 2021.

Some people have finished their Christmas shopping early, worried that the special gift they’d been eyeing might be in short supply. Yet others are rediscovering another type of gift that is never held up on an unloaded cargo ship or stuck in a clogged supply chain. 

It is an act of kindness. Reminders of this deeper spirit of Christmas are not hard to find.

Most of them are quite public. Nova Scotia, for example, has sent a giant Christmas tree to Boston each year in gratitude for that city’s act of kindness more than a century ago in aiding the province’s capital, Halifax, after a gigantic explosion. 

A similar gift of a tree graces London’s Trafalgar Square each Christmas. It is a thank you from Norway for Britain’s support in the fight against fascism during World War II. This year’s White House Christmas display includes a room decorated as “The Gift of Service,” publicly honoring the contributions of the military, front-line workers, and first responders. 

For many people, the pandemic has meant altering their Christmas celebrations. But it has not stopped a search for acts of kindness. 

The city of Kane, Pennsylvania, for example, organized a Christmas Kindness Challenge, a variation on an advent calendar in which people perform one good deed each day in the run-up to Christmas. One day might include thanking a health worker or military veteran; another donating unused items, or calling an old friend. On one of the days participants were asked to “Be kind online and offer positive comments on social media.”

“There’s something to be said about putting ourselves second and others first,” says Beth Anne Langrell, CEO of For All Seasons Inc., a mental health center that serves Maryland’s Eastern Shore. 

“The way that we are most filled is when we identify something that matters to us because it’s something in which we can invest and make a difference,” she told the Salisbury (Maryland) Daily Times. The result, she points out, is “a human life being helped.”

The giving of physical gifts can be an act of kindness too, of course. If thoughtfully chosen, they reflect the meaning of Christmas, the dawning of a love and truth beyond material treasure that binds individuals, whether as family members, friends, or strangers. 

The founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, saw the message of Christmas as the antidote to human hatred. “The basis of Christmas is love loving its enemies, returning good for evil, love that ‘suffereth long, and is kind,’ ” she wrote. 

The best Christmas gifts are not hard to find. They are also never in short supply.

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