“Only humility knows how to appreciate and admire the good qualities of others.” ~Sri Chinmoy
The holidays provided an opportunity to practice gratitude; it was my best Christmas in many a year.
For reasons best left unexplained, while visiting my sons and grandchildren, I found out I would have four hours of free time late Christmas morning.
So, I made a plan to prevent the possibility of slipping onto a good sulk, something I’m chagrined to admit is a familiar feeling I find particularly distasteful.
On Christmas Eve I purchased some warm socks and wrapped them in decorative Christmas paper.
Christmas day I drove into Baltimore’s inner city, a place where the homeless abound. Almost every street corner held an example of the poverty with which many must deal daily.
I distributed socks and homemade cookies and dollar bills in sandwich zip-lock baggies.
I had conversations with strangers and saw toothless people smile.
One elderly man, to whom I gave the last gifts and wished a happy day, replied that he was always happy. That it takes less muscles to smile, that it’s healthier for you to be happy than sad.
He was still smiling and broadcasting his reasons to choose to be happy as the light turned green and I began to pull away, his voice trailing behind me through the open car window through which I waved goodbye.
Tears sprang to my eyes: Here was this old man, on the street, admonishing me—who was headed back to a home filled with presents and food and family and a lighted tree—to be happy.
A pair of socks, some cookies and a little cash.
A pretty cheap exchange for so much wisdom.
And so much humble joy.
I might do this every year from now on.
“You have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy.” ~Buddha