WHATEVER HAPPENED TO “JOY?”
Okay, it shows up at Christmas on beautiful holiday cards and in stirring Christmas Carols (which never fail to move me) but other than that, the word is kind of short-lived. And so is the feeling.
Maybe we could change that. Seriously. It won’t be easy, of course. Darkness prevails. Despite an improving economy, Americans are more glum than they were during the Great Depression. Happiness (aka, “joy”) with our lives is down. Hate crimes in our major cities are up (for the fourth year in a row.) One in twelve Americans has depression.
So how do we counter the “bad stuff” with some “good stuff?” How do we find joy…and spread it? It’s not that hard. We can do it.
I saw an “older” woman standing on the corner of 78th and Third Avenue waiting for the light to change. It was sleeting… She was “dressed to the nines” and looked absolutely spectacular. I stopped dead in my tracks and said, “Excuse me, but I just have to tell you that you look totally fabulous!! Wow, you’re a show-stopper. I hope you feel just as good as you look!! Happy Holidays!!”
The woman grinned at me and said, “I do now! You just made me forget about the awful weather! Happy Holidays to you, too! I hope I run into you again sometime!” “Me, too!” I said. I turned around to watch her as she crossed the street. She was still smiling…So was I.
At the risk of sounding like some phony do-gooder, I try to spread a bit of joy every chance I get during the holidays – including with people I don’t know and probably will never see again. It feels wonderful. It’s sort of like a gift of joy to myself.
But there are all kinds of people who spread joy - and not just at Christmas…
“My Granddaughter’s Dress
I saw a dress in a consignment shop that I knew my granddaughter would love. But money was tight, so I asked the store owner if she could hold it for me. “May I buy the dress for you?” asked another customer. “Thank you, but I can’t accept such a gracious gift,” I said. Then she told me why it was so important for her to help me. She’d been homeless for three years, she said, and had it not been for the kindness of strangers, she would not have been able to survive. “I’m no longer homeless, and my situation has improved,” she said. “I promised myself that I would repay the kindness so many had shown me.” She paid for the dress, and the only payment she would accept in return was a heartfelt hug.” -Stacy Lee, Columbia, Maryland
“The Man at the Market
When the supermarket clerk tallied up my groceries, I was $12 over what I had on me. I began to remove items from the bags, when another shopper handed me a $20 bill. “Please don’t put yourself out,” I told him. “Let me tell you a story,” he said. “My mother is in the hospital with cancer. I visit her every day and bring her flowers. I went this morning, and she got mad at me for spending my money on more flowers. She demanded that I do something else with that money. So, here, please accept this. It is my mother’s flowers.” -Leslie Wagner, Peel, Arkansas
“Color Me Amazed
I forgot about the rules on liquids in carry-on luggage, so when I hit security at the airport, I had to give up all my painting supplies. When I returned a week later, an attendant was at the baggage area with my paints. Not only had he kept them for me, but he’d looked up my return date and time in order to meet me.” -Marilyn Kinsella, Canmore, Canada
So whatever happened to “Joy”?
It’s right here!