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What’s your favorite Christmas movie? I’m still partial to the movies of my youth; Rudolph ranks pretty high, followed pretty closely by A Christmas Story. But age brings a wider selection, and new competitors for seasonal “must watches” stretch the list for more cozy nights curled up with hot cocoa letting the spirit of the season settle in.

One of my favorites is the modern version of the classic A Christmas Carol. Scrooged stars Bill Murray as a contemporary Ebenezer who, in Murry-esque comedic style, learns the true meaning of Christmas. The proof of his heart change is a speech made on live TV (he’s a television executive). Here’s what he says after the specter of Christmas future shows him his unlamented demise this Christmas Eve. 

“It’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer; we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more.  For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be.”  

It’s quite a moving soliloquy; always gets me right in the feels. 

Frank Cross (Murray’s character) has seen what living for himself will result in. He gets to glimpse the full payoff for his relentless pursuit of self-fulfillment. To be fair, I’ve encountered my share of Christmas Eve grinches. I’ve probably been one a few too many times. But the sentiment seems to hold true. This whole season is a time when we try a little harder. Smile a little easier. Go out of our way to be a bit kinder. 

The other part is true too. There are people who need help having a merry Christmas. Maybe you know some. Perhaps they are neighbors. How can you help your neighbors “find their miracle”?

Get to Know Them

This is a bit of a freebee. But maybe you’re like me and don’t actually know your neighbors. I’ve met all of mine, but I don’t actually know all of their names. This isn’t a challenge to be best friends with them. But taking some time to knock on a door, lean over a fence, take a bit longer bringing in the garbage can, might mean a great deal to someone. Ask your neighbors how they are. Find out what their family situation is, how their season or their year has gone. If you are a praying person, ask how you might be able to pray for them in the next week, month, or year—this is one you should follow up on too.

A kind word. A few minutes of conversation may change the feel of an entire season for someone. 

Leave a Note

Maybe your inner extrovert refuses to come out. That’s okay. There are other ways you can show care and concern for your neighbors. If anonymity is better for you, make (or buy) some Christmas Cards and put thought into an encouraging message for your neighbor. Leave it in their mailbox, on their car, or taped to their door. You could up the ante by including a small treat, perhaps a traditional family baked good . . . we’re partial to pfeffernusse cookies.

Help with Seasonal Yard Work

Image:Filip Mroz

Every year I tell myself that I’m going to go to the neighbor’s driveway and help with the shoveling. I don’t intend to shovel it for them (although that would be nice), but to join them while they are shoveling. I haven’t done it yet. But if it snows where you are, lend a back and a hand to clearing off the drive. If you’re in a warmer climate, help with some other task—another cold weather help is scraping the snow/frost/ice from car windows. Even something as simple as bringing garbage cans up to the house can give a smile where there wasn’t one before.

Give them a Holiday Evening

Put together a basket of Christmas cheer. Include some small desserts, some hot chocolate, fruits. Include a movie recommendation or create and share a playlist of favorite Christmas songs. 

Pay Attention

Sometimes the moment or the opportunity comes unexpectedly. Keep your eyes and ears open to how you might help someone find their Christmas miracle. Helping someone else find theirs might just be the way you find your own.

And remember Frank Cross’s encouragement. It can happen every day of the year. It doesn’t have to just be Christmas.