A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beth Underwood: Now, more than ever, the spirit of Christmas lives on for children and adults alike

Every holiday season, the scrooges of the world seem to grow in number. They talk about how they no longer exchange gifts with their spouse, or what an imposition it is to shop for anyone. Some talk about drawing names for gift exchanges, then whine about the name they draw.

Worst of all, a lot of people declare that Christmas is only for the kids.

I disagree wholeheartedly. In fact, I’m convinced now more than ever that Christmas — or Hanukkah or Kwanza — is for everyone.

I am compelled to bring up this whole issue after a visit to a local realty office last week. Their office lobby was decorated with about half a dozen Christmas trees, and each tree was filled with large colorful tags. The tags displayed a three-item Christmas wish list from senior citizens in assisted living and nursing facilities.

At first, my heart was heavy as I picked out my tags. The requests were so simple. Things like body wash and lotion, Christmas candy, and gloves were commonly requested, as were pajamas, socks, books, and gloves.

One lady obviously had trouble deciding what she wanted most, evidenced by the multiple times she’d re-numbered her list. Another wrote a note stating how excited he was to receive his gifts.

As I read through the tags, I was reminded of my own Christmas wishes through the years — of the anticipation that fills the December air, the sense of wonder that accompanies each Christmas Eve — and how the season truly is one of miracles, if only we choose to believe.

Age doesn’t change that.

While there’s no denying the joy in seeing a child’s eyes light up at Christmas, I imagine the sparkles of delight will be equally bright in the eyes of the men and women represented by those tags. Maybe more so. Because after decades of life, they’ve managed to hold on to the spirit of the season. Regardless of where life has taken them, they’ve not been swayed by Ebenezer and his gang.

They still believe.

And with something as simple as a box of Christmas candy or a new pair of socks, we can ensure they continue to do so.

If you’d like to get involved, contact your local assisted living, nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions to inquire about holiday gift drives.

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Beth Underwood is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. She shares stories of everyday life that entertain, inspire, and encourage others. Her books include Gravity, a narrative nonfiction account of a small group of Tennessee National Guardsmen, and Talk Bourbon to Me, a lighthearted look at Kentucky’s native spirit. Drop her a line at beth@bethwrightunderwood.com, or visit her website at bethwrightunderwood.com.

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