There’s one thing certain about the Christmas season: it’s a time that we go all out. No matter how stressed we already feel, we willingly take on the additional creative and financial burdens of gift buying, home decorating, entertaining and, like it or not, celebrating.
At first we may grumble but eventually the spirit kicks in and we find that miraculous second wind that keeps us stoked. Sometimes it even sees us through to New Year’s Eve (and THEN we pass out). It’s such a familiar pattern and it recalls what a runner experiences on a cold morning, suiting up and looking at each layer of clothing as an opportunity to reconsider the whole thing and just go back to bed — and then the sense of victory when you choose to hit the road.
That thought brings to mind a recent Concord Monitor story I read about Brandon Richardson, a senior at Merrimack Valley High School who decided to run the length of the state, from Canada to Massachusetts, in three days in November. And not for bragging rights. He did it to raise money for Jimmy and Kristal Snowden of Franklin and their 6-year-old son, James, who was born with a severe case of cerebral palsy. James needs a special van and the family will face extraordinary expenses for many years to come. That was enough motivation to challenge Richardson to tackle three marathons in as many days.
And that story reminded me of a recent breakfast I attended for the Easter Seals NH’s “Veterans Count” program. The meal was so light that Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas described it as a “no-bacon breakfast,” but that’s the way Easter Seals rolls. They prefer to use the funds they raise for the causes they support, and virtually every dollar they collected will go to assist our nation’s returning warriors and their families with programs that supply critical needs. After all, who more than our veterans understand the meaning of giving your ALL for something greater than one’s self.
The new year signals a new project for a group I’m involved in called Building on Hope. It’s a band of volunteers who, in their “spare” time and without any official organization, team up to rally the state’s builders and remodelers to give away hundreds of thousands of dollars in materials and labor — all just to reinforce and spruce up the facilities of a worthy local nonprofit. This May, they’ll be bringing hope to Opportunity Networks of Amherst, which selflessly assists developmentally disabled people to obtain job placements and other services.
It’s all a good reminder that the Christmas season, for all the hoopla and materialism that it arouses, is really a celebration of a certain guy who went the distance, expending literally everything for others.