Heart and Soul

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Hershey Kiss and Hot Chocolate

Between the eggnog and the cookies, the tree and all the trimmings, the shopping and the wrapping, and my family’s 6 December Birthdays, this month is always a hectic one for me. Yet this year, I’ve even managed to ratchet up my holiday chaos to a whole new level by scheduling signings of my Chicken Wing Wisdom book on weekends and many evenings. The end result of this temporary insanity is that I am quickly becoming THE MASTER of multi-tasking.

For example, last Saturday while sitting in the middle of a local mall, meeting/greeting/signing books, I was also writing this Heart and Soul commentary. The topic was one I’d been chewing on since Thanksgiving and the commentary was shaping up as a real doozy. Basically, my Irish sensibilities have been totally inflamed by the current, “politically correct” demand to displace the centuries old, “Merry Christmas” with the new and insipid “Happy Holidays.” Personally I think the debate swirling around this issue insults people’s intelligence as well their valued personal traditions. If I want to say Merry Christmas, as I have done throughout the Decembers of my life, then I should be able to do so freely and without fear of offending anyone.

However just as I was rolling into paragraph three and really getting to the meat of the issue, my creative juices came to a complete and total halt as I heard a voice say, “My daughter is going to write our story one day.”

I looked up from my writing pad to find a middle aged woman standing before me, her appearance clearly defining her as a woman more of labor, than luxury. I immediately remembered her as someone who had passed by my signing table earlier in the day. Specifically I recalled that she paused only briefly, as she was pushing a man in a wheelchair and had 2 children tagging alongside. That poignant image, along with the directness of her statement, begged my undivided attention as she spoke.

“My husband is blind and my son is autistic. I’m the one who takes care of them. Since they take so much of my attention, my daughter, who is perfectly healthy, gets left out a lot. So we have this special thing that we do. When she needs time with me, she leaves a Hershey Kiss on my pillow. And when I need time with her, I leave a Hershey Kiss on her pillow. So when I see that Hershey kiss, I know that I need to make sure that we to have time to talk and drink hot chocolate.”

The woman’s words poured out so quickly that I initially found them somewhat stunning. Yet as I began to grasp the story she was telling, I found her spirit irresistible and her love for her family most remarkable. I also found that I was suddenly much less concerned whether people were wishing me Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Kwanzaa or Happy Holidays. For in her simple story, this worn and weary woman reminded me of the true message of the season…love.

So, I’ve decided to take a page from this wise woman’s life story and change my focus on “the acceptable greeting” for the holidays. Whether it’s Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Blessed Kwanzaa, who really cares? As long as the wishes come from the heart and are given with love, that’s what’s important

Just like a Hershey kiss and a big steaming mug of hot chocolate.
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