A light in the darkness
“And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.” A Visit from St Nicholas – Clement Clarke Moore
Once upon a time in a dark and snowy land far, far away I knew it was finally getting close to Christmas when my mother retrieved an illustrated copy of the above-mentioned poem from its resting place on the top shelf of the linen closet and placed it on the coffee table in the living room.
I always regarded this as a special book, not because it spoke of flying reindeer and presents, but because it hinted of a world in which the wishes of small children somehow came true.
In truth, this idea of impossible things being quite normal seized my imagination at a very early age and I have never really quite outgrown it. Yes, there have been a few very difficult moments where things have not gone my way but somehow I have managed to hang onto the idea that things can work out no matter the circumstances – and that has always helped me keep going even when the deck appears to be stacked against me.
Living the results of this positivity and perseverance continues to encourage me forward even today.
These days, of course, just about all of my energy goes into seeing what I can do for other people – which brings me to the point of this column.
Regardless of what this year has been like for you personally, imagine for a moment what it must be like to be a child.
You think you are sick of wearing a mask everywhere and being shuffled back and forth between working from home and social distancing in the office but consider this – one minute you are sitting at your desk in a classroom, the next you are banned from the building and you don’t know when you will be allowed to return.
Then you get told that you can’t play with your friends, or have a birthday party, or go to football practice.
Then things seem to be better. You are back at school and ballet class has even started again and then … wham, without warning everything shuts down again.
You ask the grown-ups around you when all of this will be over but no one can give you an answer.
Try processing that as a seven-year-old.
It’s enough to knock the stuffing out of the best of us.
But think for a moment if you yourself were a child, what a small completely unexpected surprise could do to brighten your day.
It does not have to be a grand elaborate gesture or cost money that you don’t have, this is one of those times when it truly is the thought that counts.
And no, this is not about promoting commercialism or a particular religious feast day.
This is about doing something special to enrich the life of a small person in your life who is struggling to make sense of some impossible things.
Any sort of gift that occurs to you when you think of this child will do just fine – and feel free to present it on whatever day suits you best.
It does not need to be elaborate – a box of homemade cookies with a note left on the doorstep, or a homemade fishing rod and a bit of tackle; a colourful sweater from the thrift store or a package of markers and some drawing paper might be all it takes.
The point is to offer them not just the gift itself but the gift of hope that good things can still happen on a difficult day.
I close this week by mentioning a wonderful anonymous gesture by the fans of the Spanish football team called Real Betis. Every year at a home game near Christmas all the fans show up with a soft toy and then during half-time they throw it on to the field. Volunteers are on hand to gather them up and bag them to take to children in need in the city. Thousands of toys are collected each year.
Now that is a community gesture for all to see and all to participate in and all the kids to embrace and enjoy.
May your life be filled with light and love in the year to come. Season’s greetings everyone!
Robin Trimingham is the managing director of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a business consultant, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://bit.ly/3nSMlvc or firstname.lastname@example.org