The great season of winter is upon all of Evanston. Wreathes are going up, flashing bulbs flickering on, and warm feelings spreading through the air as if caught on a jet stream. For most, these blissful sentiments define wintertime. But who, or what, gets the credit for them? What causes us to feel such joy when the awe-inspiring wintry season rolls around?
If one looks around, he or she could probably find a lot of small things that add to our mood. Carolers’ angelic voices ringing, snowballs being launched through the air, and snowmen sprouting up all around.
However, perhaps one of the most compelling of these are simple, random acts of kindness. Most of these mitzvoth are purely spontaneous. However, some people are taking good deeds one step farther.
Countless families and offices are playing Secret Santa, creating much excitement and suspense. The thought of having someone out there clandestinely scheming about what gift they should give is simply thrilling.
Many schools, churches and community centers are asking for donations of any money or small gifts to give to families in need in third-world countries. This makes one feel much more cheerful than he or she might expect.
One Evanston school, Pope John XXIII, is trying to create an atmosphere of peace and friendship by setting up several peace programs.
If a teacher sees any student being exceptionally generous or amiable, they bestow a small wooden “Peace Heart” on them.
The Peace Heart is then put into the “Vessel of Peace,” a glass container in the school’s hallway that slowly fills up with symbols of peace.
Every time the Vessel fills up, the Peace Hearts are taken out and a white paper dove is hung on the adjacent “Tree of Peace,” with hopes that a fully decorated representation of peace will grace the hall by the end of the year.
In addition, the doors all around in the school bear messages of peace on the same doves.
Everyone loves the holidays. But if one were sad on Christmas, it wouldn’t, couldn’t, feel like the holidays. Without the atmosphere, none of what we do would have any meaning. A blanket of melancholy would descend on the season like the New Year’s Eve Ball in Times Square.
Winter should have an ambience full of good vibes and delight. So we need people to try to be peacemakers. People to mediate fights, people who smile at strangers and laugh like nobody is listening. Anyone and everyone who can just be happy. Because happiness spreads.