I love this time of the year – preparing for the holidays. I especially enjoy shopping for less fortunate children, and volunteering my time. But when I am alone my most favorite aspect is listening to the Christmas music. We have a radio station that started playing all holiday music the day after Halloween, which is fine with me! One of the songs I really like is often sung by Amy Grant, “Grown-up Christmas List.” She sings about all of the things she’d like to have for Christmas – love, peace and an end to hunger. One of the lines in the song when she is giving her list is that “….and right would always win.”
I have been thinking about this line quite a bit lately as we move through the holiday season. I realize how many times over the years I’ve said something was “the right thing to do.” Or I have responded to my kids’ questions of “Why?” they should do something with, “It’s the right thing.” But I never really thought before about WHAT the right thing is! Right to whom?
I was thinking about this in the context of giving at the holidays. I really believe that it is “right” to give to those who are less fortunate than I am. My family thinks I give more than I “should,” but I believe it is important to offer a portion of what I am given to others. But there are many people who do not agree that this is “right.” It isn’t right to them to give away hard-earned money to someone else. They might feel it is actually counter-productive and enabling to give to others. “People need to learn to stand on their own two feet” is also a reasonable sentiment. What’s “right” isn’t always black and white.
But as I’ve pondered this, I have come up with a list that I’ll offer for the holiday season – no matter what your religious beliefs may be – that I do believe constitutes what’s “right”:
- Extend compassion to someone else. Even if you don’t agree that you should offer financial help, being a kind and compassionate person in your heart to another person isn’t hard and yields tremendous benefit to everyone involved.
- Allow someone to enter a roadway or refuse to block a street so that others cannot exit. Showing courtesy to other drivers is “right” because it minimizes the overall road rage and anger that drivers exhibit more and more on the roads. It’s healthier for all of us.
- Treat those with no voice (or a smaller voice) with kindness. This includes children, companion animals, and wildlife. Being a bully or being verbally or physically aggressive or hurtful to a being with lesser ability to defend themselves than you is never, ever, ever right, no matter what the circumstances. Show kindness to those so-called “beneath” you at all times. Being the bigger person means more responsibility for our actions.
- Smile more. Criticize less. Let’s face it, life is hard for many of us. Too many days we feel downtrodden and beat up. Don’t add to someone else’s pain; look for ways to alleviate it. A simple smile and a compliment can make the difference in someone’s day. And, as a bonus, it feels really good to give as well!
- Take responsibility for your actions. Don’t turn your blame on someone else – this person that made you do something, or that life event that made you bitter or angry. Refuse to place blame on others. Instead, find the inner reserves you’ve been given, and pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!
Try these ideas for being more “right” in your life during this holiday season – and beyond. See if it can make a difference for you. It actually feels right to do right – try it out and see how it feels for you.
Author, Understanding Other People
More from parenting