By Kevin Rudden Staff Reporter/Columnist
December 23, 2011
For the past few years, this has become the time when I start to look inward and contemplate my life.
To be honest, it has nothing to do with the Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year's season. It is because I survived a major heart attack about 10 days before Christmas in 2005, and remember laying in a hospital bed that night, unable to sleep and wondering where my life was going. The experience was, as they say, "a major wake up call."
And so, at this time of year I am compelled to think of where we all fit in the greater universe around us. I usually remember the words of a friend, who continually wonders why some people get jealous when someone buys a new car or a new home. My friend, instead, would rather congratulate the owners on their good fortune. "Fortune" is an interesting word to use because it can convey the double meanings of both "wealth" and "chance" or "luck."
All around us – if we look – are people in need. My parents' generation would say that those people were "down on their luck." I'd rather say that "chance" affected their job status, or they made poor financial decisions when times were better that are now adversely affecting them in the Great Recession, or, maybe there now are no more jobs in the field in which they worked.
Since many of our family, friends and neighbors are affected by the current economy, it's only neighborly to give them a helping hand –not a hand-out, but a hand-up. I know from personal experience that it's a kindness that will long be appreciated.
There are lots of ways that we can help them. For example, there are food pantries in Milford, in Upton, and in Mendon that welcome your donations and various area supermarkets are providing pre-packaged meal bags or boxes for a requested donation. Salvation Army kettles are a frequent site in front of larger stores, and most houses of worship are accepting donations of clothing or presents for children. Various schools are running clothing drives, as well.
I have yet to find a religion which advocates that we do not help those in need. Show me the creed that says to ignore those around you and think only of yourself.
One hundred and fourteen years ago, an eight year-old girl wrote to the New York Sun newspaper to ask if Santa Claus was real. In his celebrated response, newsman Francis Church wrote, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." Less remembered is his next line: "He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy."
Why not spread some "love and generosity" around helping folks out, if for no reason else than making sure the spirit of Santa Claus lives on?