At this time of year, everybody is aware of how the Grinch stole Christmas. But do you know how Christmas, as we know it today, truly got started in the first place?
Well, of course, Christmas has been celebrated in many different ways in many different countries for hundreds of years. But according to the recent movie, “The Man Who Invented Christmas,” we can thank author Charles Dickens for helping change the holiday from being a widely misunderstood pagan celebration and observance of the birth of Jesus into a festive time of family togetherness, religious reflection and giving to those less fortunate.
The film reveals how Dickens’ classic novella A Christmas Carol was inspired by his own impoverished upbringing, and certainly by the general neglect and mistreatment of the poor that was rampant in Victorian England. In turn, Dickens’ despicable miser Ebenezer Scrooge was clearly the inspiration for Dr. Seuss’ Grinch. So it’s no coincidence that after they each see the error of their self-centered ways, they come to love the spirit of Christmas giving.
Today, that spirit lives on at Sunshine Retirement communities throughout the country, as many residents enjoy giving a little extra time and energy to benefit those in need in their area. Here are a few examples:
At Waterford Terrace in La Mesa, California, Activity Director Angelica Huizar reports that they are doing a toy drive for the Polinsky Children’s Center, a 24-hour emergency shelter for youth up to age 18. Residents will be donating a gingerbread house to the facility and personally delivering the toys to the children on December 20.
Residents at Dunwoody Pines in Dunwoody, Georgia are also doing their annual Toys for Tots gift collection. In addition, they are making ornaments for a "Giving Tree" at the Covenant House, a local homeless shelter for youth. Each ornament will have a picture of a child who is in need of a gift. And to top it off, they will be baking holiday cookies and delivering them to the local police and fire departments.
Local firemen in Folsom, California will also be receiving a fresh batch of Christmas cookies from some generous bakers residing at Creekside Oaks.
Meanwhile, down in Pharr, Texas, Brook Ridge had their Christmas Buffet and Toy Drive yesterday (December 14). Residents who donated a new toy received $5 off the price of the scrumptious feast. The toys will be donated to Safe Haven for Kids, an emergency youth shelter in nearby Alamo. They’re also making blankets, bonnets and booties to be donated to the local children's hospital, all of which will be delivered along with the toys on December 22.
Finally, The Gardens at Brook Ridge is collecting donations for the Fregoso family, who are suffering through some hard times. Residents are also building a gingerbread house that will be donated to Three Little Bears Day Care Center.
“We get so much appreciation from the emergency centers and service providers when we help them out,“ says Huizar. “It really brings a sense of joy and goodwill to our residents who participate. It makes me feel good to see them as happy as children on Christmas morning.”
That’s the spirit we love to see at our communities every day. Or as a transformed Ebenezer Scrooge put it before helping Tiny Tim back to health: “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living