This is the time of year when we begin to see and hear all of the seasonal preparations for Christmas . . . as described in that well-known holiday favorite song, “the most wonderful time of the year.” Except for those among us who do not find that the holidays are a wonderful time at all.
There are many people all around us who are lonely, sad, and broken-hearted, making Christmas an extremely painful time of year. Perhaps you are one of those experiencing that aching in your heart as we approach the holidays. If you are, then please know that you are not really all alone.
I realize that it feels that way when you look around and see families everywhere, parties and get-togethers, church celebrations, and friends gathering to celebrate. You feel like you are on the outside looking in at all of the joyous festivities. Do you feel that way? I do too, sometimes, and we all have personal experiences that have created that feeling.
It could be the loss of a life-long partner, or a broken relationship, or the distance of miles between you and your loved ones. Some of us feel alone because we are afraid to connect with other people, sometimes even within our own churches or families. Others feel alone because the ones that we love are no longer with us, for any number of reasons.
The other day we were in a restaurant, our little family, and in the booth right next to us was an elderly gentleman, sitting all alone. He was all dressed up in a fine suit, white shirt, and tie. His shoes were polished nicely, and he looked as if he had just come from a church service. His silver-gray hair was combed carefully, and at first I thought perhaps he was waiting for someone to join him.
As we continued on our merry way, our little family, with our girls being silly and occasionally teasing each other about the soup or the rice or the noodles (we were in our favorite Chinese restaurant), I noticed that our gentleman friend in the next booth continued to sit alone. He silently ate his rice, and soup, and noodles, alone with no companion or friend.
My family didn’t notice, I don’t think, and I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but my heart was sad for him. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been – sometimes I’m quite delighted to be allowed to eat my lunch in peace and quiet, but I don’t think that was what was going on in this situation. After jostling and traipsing back and forth to the buffet bar numerous times, my girls finally settled down to eat.
But before they launched into their typical hysterical rendition of “I know how to get the paper out of the fortune cookie without breaking it open” competition, I stood up and walked over to the buffet bar one last time. As I returned to my seat, I happened to glance over at the elderly gentleman sitting in the booth next to us, and he looked up just in time that our eyes met. I smiled. He beamed with a gentle look of hope.
That was all. Just a look. Perhaps it meant nothing. But to me, it was just a teeny, tiny opportunity to see into another soul and acknowledge that he was not, really, all alone in this world. Sometimes the little things are all we get to do, but if we do those little things that God brings into our lives, it just might be enough to change someone’s day. This Christmas season, let’s all look for opportunities to do those little, but so meaningful, acts of kindness. Because He first loved us, let us love one another.
Nina Newton is the Senior Editor of RUBY magazine, as well as a free-lance writer and editor.