Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Project for the Holidays

Do you remember the snow monster in Christmas movies – the one that Santa was able to change from bad to good with a gift? I watched that movie last night with my children, and it made me think of how easy it is to reach out to others.

Among the people we know, there is always at least one snow monster. I, for one, have met a few; they put on a very strong front to intimidate others because they have been previously hurt, and feel the need to wear a spiked armor for protection. Deep down, they are sensitive and caring, vulnerable and afraid, but on the surface they come through as an ice storm, ready to attack the opponent with icy daggers.

In the movie, when Santa gives him the gift, the snow monster is surprised, and is unsure of what he should do. All he’s ever received, up to this point, are fear and anger – the only possible responses to his threatening, cold and heartless behavior. Suddenly, despite his tough appearance, someone is offering him a gift. The monster is at a loss; his chest deflates, his eyes open wider, and he humbly asks Santa what he should do from then on, since he has never learned to be good. His rough, scary appearance is gone, and is replaced by a gentle demeanor.

So, should we follow Santa’s example and give gifts to mean people? Maybe we should. They can be material gifts - if one feels so inclined - but what will truly “thaw” the snow monsters are things money can’t buy: a hug, a kind word, a bit of human warmth. They expect swords and arrows; an offer of unconditional love will slice through the rough peel and reach the soft core.

The response is quite amazing. At first, they might even get uglier, as the sweet words will burn a hole in the icy crust, and the “monsters” will feel suddenly vulnerable. They might remain speechless, as they have never prepared answers for a positive exchange, but at that point, the magic has begun; that one single, tiny seed of love will burrow in their hearts and grow, and may be the catalyst for incredible changes ahead.

We can make this a project for the holidays – that of thawing as many snow monsters as we can, and give them the chance to experience a Christmas miracle, maybe for the first time in their lives. As my grandmother once said: “The mightier and uglier they appear, the more they need to be loved. If you give out gifts, would you not want to hand them out to the real needy? Love is no different.”

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