Dr. Bill Atwood

Joy of giving

At this time of year I think that most of us spend time remembering events and people whom we have known during our lives. We remember experiences and we look back on our success and also on our failures. The title song from the movie, The Way We Were includes the line, “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget…” does express a sentiment that many share.

As the season of winter approaches and the days become shorter by a minute until Thursday, Dec. 21, when the solstice occurs we can take time to think about Christmas’s past and about our lives.

On Dec. 8, I celebrated my 38th anniversary of being a resident of the mountain community having moved here from Los Angeles. Dec. 10 marked 38 years as a public school teacher. My first students at Raymond-Knowles Elementary were seventh and eighth graders. They would all be turning 50-something this year.

I look at my current students at Mariposa County High School and see the same looks of optimism for the future that I saw in my first student. I teach a class for juniors or seniors and as such they are either 17 or 18 years of age. When they are my current age of 65 it will be 2064 or 2065 and they will be aware that they have fewer tomorrows remaining than yesterdays.

This gets to my point. We can spend vast amounts of time living in the past or dreaming about the future and discover that years later we have allowed opportunities to pass us by. We can also live in the present and remembering the advice from the Broadway play, Auntie Mame, we can, “Live, Live, Live.”

As the holidays approach we can quibble less about the chores associated with the decorating (my wife will chuckle that I wrote that line), the shopping, the cooking, the wrapping, and the other tasks required at this time of year. We can choose to embrace the Christmas holiday spirit and do for others.

There are many in this community that have little and the holidays seem to make it worse for them. It must be very hard for a single parent to face the holidays with the children looking forward to a Christmas and that parent trying to figure out how to pull it off.

The Marine’s help a great deal with the Toy’s for Tot’s campaign and last Saturday’s Elks Lodge Christmas Party provided some new clothes to 170 children in our area. Now Manna House is gearing up to help put food on the tables of the hungry folksin this community. Bell Ringers stand outside of Von’s, Raley’s, and Grocery Outlet seeking your donations as we fill the pots with our dollars or change. Each year as I have served as a “bell ringer” I am amazed at the generosity of this community.

The comments are awesome. I’ve watched people who have a tough time walking take the extra painful steps to drop some money into the little house. I’ve heard people tell me they love to repay the kindnesses that they felt when donated food was what they ate as they were growing up.

As the season of autumn officially changes at 8:40 a.m. on Dec. 21 into winter, perhaps the fortunes of those struggling around us can change for the better. We can be the agents of change here.

Manna House and Helping Hand’s can serve as the connection as we give and they deliver. Those in need are helped and everyone feels better for it. Let’s make Christmas 2017 a favorable memory for others. Ah, the joy of giving.