MAUREEN BURNS: A cup of kindness

By Maureen Burns • Last Updated 4:47 pm on Friday, December 23, 2011

Maureen Burns

We think of Christmas as merry, happy and ho-ho-ho. It is, for most people. But this year, I am very aware of many who are not merry, happy and full of ho-ho-ho.

We took our grandsons to Coopersville to ride the Santa Train. As we left, there was a poster pinned on a door. The poster was for a fund raiser for the family who lost two children last week, when they crashed into the back of a school bus. I didn’t realize those were their only children. Their loss is so profound, I don’t know how people get through such ordeals.

In the past couple of weeks, and even this week, we have friends burying spouses, sisters. These people leave children and some leave grandchildren. They leave many others who mourn for them.

My friend told me at a Christmas party this week that he is struggling with what to do with his mother who was mentally there one day and the next day she wasn’t.

Marriages are ending during this holiday season, while others are in great turmoil, on the edge.
My sibling is one of the many who have been without a job for way too long, yet still have children to make Christmas merry for.

Last week, I went to my chiropractor. He asked me the dumbest thing. He said, “Do you have any stress going on in your life now?”

I told him he might not want to ask that of any other women right before Christmas. Women are up to their eyeballs with stress, trying to get everything done for everyone they love. I think I even advised him to not ask his wife that right before Christmas. She might just hit him with a Christmas tree stand. The tree wouldn’t be hard enough.

Yes, we are stressed, rushing, spending and tired. We definitely need a holiday and a vacation might even be better.

However, we must keep it all in perspective. All the holiday stress and madness is just that. We will likely all look back and think it was a very merry, happy and ho-ho-ho Christmas. But, when we pause and look around us, we see the many who are suffering for many different reasons. This can give us an instant shot of perspective.

As I sat in church yesterday, I thought of the many people I mentioned above. By chance, I opened the songbook to this hymn.

“We are many parts, we are all one body, and the gifts we have we are given to share. May the Spirit of love make us one indeed; one, the love that we share, one, our hope in despair, one, the cross that we bear.”

As we begin our personal holiday, let us each remember to do what we can for those we know who may be hurting during this merry time. Whether it be a call, a note, a hug or a prayer — let us each open our hearts. We can’t make the problems go away, but we can add a tiny bit of caring.

It is good to remember the words of Stephen Grellet. “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

I wish each of you a merry, happy and ho-ho-ho holiday. But, if you are one of those suffering this season, I hope your burden is lightened by the caring of others.

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is

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