For the past month, Momma Lopes has been orchestrating a scheme to spread Christmas cheer with the folks in Pepere’s (“Grandpa’s”) senior home. She’s been collecting small trinkets and tokens to bring in as gifts – things like snow globes, figurines, and notepads for the ladies and baseball cards, socks, and water bottles for the gents. She recruited Brendan, Marissa, Cory, Sarah, Dad, and me weeks ago as “Santa’s helper elves” so we would have due time to mentally prepare. She even ensured that we all had the perfect holiday git-up with Santa Claus hats and red and green gear.
Today was the big day for her plan to unfold. Just before dinner time, when all the residents were gathered in the dining hall awaiting their meals, Momma gave her signal and “Operation Christmas Smile” was underway. The elf team paraded into the dining hall singing Christmas carols with big baskets of gifts for the residents, ranging in age from 55 to 102! Fifty plus faces immediately lit up, as if a firework show had just erupted amidst a warm summer night. We shared gifts and conversations with all the seniors – each of them showing their sincerest appreciation with ear to ear grins and some even with tears.
Momma’s “Operation Christmas Smile” was a huge hit.
Reflecting back on the festivities, I’m reminded that it wasn’t the gifts themselves which brought Pepere and his comrades so much joy. It was the simple fact of knowing that they were loved – through just a short moment of conversation, a simple gift exchange, and most importantly a SMILE and “Merry Christmas” from the crew. It’s crazy how powerful a smile can be…
During the holiday season, we are all too often distracted by the “hustle and bustle” of Christmas time – things like travel, family get-together’s, shopping, gifts, cooking, and baking somehow become hassles to be hurried instead of blessings to be enjoyed. We find ways to highlight the worst in others (and ourselves), to stress over pointless matters, and to do all the right things for all the wrong reasons. We “mope” our way instead of “hope” our way through one of the grandest times of the year. The question I propose “Why so glum, Mr. (or Ms.) Grinch?”
I encourage you to reflect on the below message shared by Dale Carnegie in his landmark bestseller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
“The Value of a Smile at Christmas”
As shown in a New York department store advertisement to its customers
- It costs nothing, but creates much.
- It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.
- It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
- None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.
- It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a business, and is the countersign of friends.
- It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and Nature’s best antidote for trouble.
- Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody till it is given away.
- And if in the last-minute rush of Christmas buying some of our salespeople should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours?
- For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!
This Christmas season – let’s all take a step back and focus on “we” over “me”. Let’s cast aside selfish motives and uncover true happiness by sharing it with others. Let’s follow the lead of people like Momma Lopes and take the time to show people they are loved. Whether with family members at our homes or with strangers at the stores, remember how powerful a simple smile can be.
Hope on board for Operation Christmas Smile.