Wow, it’s Christmas morning and, though I wrote this just before I flew to Virginia to spend time with both my children and my grandchildren, you can bet I am in the spirit.
I know this sounds weird, but Christmas almost always triggers a melancholy emotion in me. If that weren’t enough, if a song like “Little Drummer Boy” plays, it elicits a tear or two. I can’t really put my finger on exactly why this happens because my folks made Christmas unbelievably magical for all five kids growing up.
If I had to guess why this emotional roller-coaster hits me on a day that is supposed to be all about happiness, it’s because it evokes thoughts of all those that have nothing. Throughout my life, I have been blessed beyond description and, when I see someone struggling, whether financial or emotionally, a sense of guilt hits me.
I am by no means a wealthy person in the financial sense, but in every other way I am wealthy beyond description. What a life I have had. Growing up on Hilton Head before people even heard of the place was amazing. It was the definition of “the world is one’s oyster.” Dirt roads, but a handful of cars, marsh tacky horses, turkeys, ducks, herds of deer and all the fish someone like myself could ever want.
But most precious to me was the sense of caring my parents instilled in each one of us kids, something I have successfully implanted into my own children.
I have been so lucky raising my two kids, Logan and Camden. Both are gentle by nature and caring for those less fortunate. Their mother and I would often take them to nursing homes on holidays before they could tear into the first present.
Looking back, I remember the sense of joy in the eyes of from some of the elderly just because some child took the time to talk to them, maybe even hug them. It just made the rest of the day that much more special. A random act of kindness is definitely the only way to go.
Sure, I have had loss. When I was a young teenager, my parents went to the Savannah airport to pick up my oldest sister Alice, who was coming home from college on a break, when on the way home they slammed into a lumber truck left parked in the highway. My folks were hospitalized for almost two years and Alice was in a coma for four years before passing away.
My brother Dan was off at school and only my sister Grace and I were at home. Friends of the family would alternate living with us through that period, but as horrible as it was, I learned a lot about life, death and caring.
If the name Alice rings a bell, that’s because the Hilton Head Chamber of Commerce’s top award, the Alice Glenn Doughtie Award, was named in her memory. She was a giver through and through.
Though my daughter, Camden, is a doctor in Charlottesville, Va., she has a heart a mile wide. Even with two young’uns (yes, I am a grandfather that goes by “Pappy”), she makes time to help others without batting a lash.
My son, Logan, who lives outside Los Angeles with his longtime love, Kali, has chosen the nonprofit path as his career. Working for “Heal The Bay,” an organization to save and restore the Santa Monica Bay, I cannot tell you how proud I am that he has chosen to make a career out of making this world better for so many.
An amazing writer, he possesses a vocabulary that blows my mind. Growing up, he always had a book in hand and, nowadays after we talk, I have to rush to the dictionary to look up words he used that I pretended to understand. Yep, Dad’s a dummy.
My sister, Grace, also has a career helping the less fortunate, as does my sister-in-law, Betsy, director of Deep Well on Hilton Head.
Remember the song called “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Stills & Nash? All I can say is my parents did a stellar job teaching their children well. There is neither a drug nor drink that can give a person a greater high then the feeling you get after helping someone in need.
So on this Christmas Day after opening presents, take a few minutes to find someone in need or someone who is lonely and show him or her you care. If you do this just once, believe me when I say it will become a tradition that you’ll want to pass down through the generations.
Merry Christmas, everybody, and here’s to good health and happiness!