To eggnog. That half gallon of eggnog you just put in the refrigerator is about a half gallon more than you need. Sure, you’ll have a little glass to get into the holiday spirit, only to be reminded of why you don’t buy this bizarre concoction (and what is “nog,” anyway?) any other time of the year. Over the next couple of weeks, the container will worm its way to the back of the fridge and park itself next to that year-old, green-fuzzed cheese spread. You say you’ll have another glass, maybe while watching “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” But who are you kidding? You’re not going to touch that sticky goo. As the holidays progress, you’ll forget about it. But come Jan. 27, you’ll stumble onto it while searching for leftovers. Once again, you’ll realize you wasted all but a single ounce of this sad drink.
To hugs. We’re not talking about those awkwardly tight and long hugs that some distant relative tries to give you during the annual holiday shindig. We’re talking about sincere, compassionate hugs that make you feel like life’s worth living. There’s no reason to worry in a good embrace. Like hugs. Love hugs. Give as many as you can to the people you care about. The media have been full of tales of inappropriate touching, but let’s give some attention to appropriate touching. Such a thing exists. A hug is not only acceptable—it’s often preferable to a friendly wave or other gesture of well wishing. Be the first person to reach out and embrace that loved one. And don’t pull away so fast that it’s debatable whether the hug even took place. If you’re going to hug, make it count. As to finding yourself under the mistletoe, that gets into some potentially murky territory. We have no position on mistletoe.
To ignoring the Salvation Army bell ringer. Oh. My. Gosh. You just left the grocery store with a bag full of eggnog and totally ignored that sweet little girl and her mom ringing the Salvation Army bell. Tsk-tsk. The list of excuses is long: You don’t give to the poor on philosophical grounds. You were in a hurry and reaching into your pocket to pull out a dollar would have made you late for that, ummm, thing you must do. The most fashionable excuse is to claim you don’t carry any cash because you buy everything with a credit or debit card. Please, people. Go get some cash, fold it and stick it into that red bucket—and do it again and again. ’Tis the season to give to those less fortunate than ourselves. ’Tis not the season to pretend you don’t see the red buckets.
To giving trees. These trees at churches hold on their spindly limbs ornaments listing the age of little boys and girls and a few items they’d like for Christmas. If you spotted one of these trees and took an ornament, good for you. These trees also make a great opportunity for parents to teach their children about other children who depend on the generosity of strangers. Many children view Christmas from a what’s-in-it-for-me perspective, but giving trees allows families to focus their energies on buying items for people they don’t know but want to help. With Christmas still weeks away, it’s heart-warming to see some giving trees are almost completely bare. In Janesville, too many children live in poverty, but let’s take comfort in knowing many of them will have presents on Christmas Day thanks to the kindness of this community.