Edna called me to point out that the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365 is not exactly an original thought.
She told me when Ivor proposed to her, they decided to get married as close as possible to Christmas as that was their favorite time of the year.
“People are always in a good mood and are always good to each other and are always doing kind deeds for each other at Christmas time so we decided that would be the perfect time for us to get married.”
That was in 1946.
On Christmas day of that year, as they were walking home from a family dinner, they began discussing what life would be like if the Christmas spirit was present all year long. They decided that evening they would live their lives as if indeed each day belonged to the Christmas season.
They pledged to each other that no matter what personal challenges or struggles they were facing in their own lives, they would greet each day with a warm smile which they would pass on to everyone they met.
They decided that while they could not make others adopt the Christmas spirit every day of the year, they would become such good role models it would be difficult for those around them not to.
They began by helping those in need in their community. In the winter they shovelled snow from the sidewalks of their elderly neighbors and in the summer, they cut their grass.
They volunteered at the local hospital, at their church and anywhere else where they felt they could make a difference.
They spent many hours helping newcomers to the neighborhood – mostly Polish immigrants – to speak, read and write in English. They gave freely of their time and resources to local charities and were always there as a support system for friends and neighbors in crisis.
They did all this while juggling careers as school teachers and raising three children.
They instilled the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365 into each of their kids at an early age and by the time the children entered their teens, they were as enthusiastic about performing regular random acts of kindness as their parents.
Edna told me that over the years she and Ivor helped hundreds of people and yet none of these folks benefited nearly as much as the two of them.
She told me the sheer joy that comes from simple acts that bring smiles to the faces of others is a feeling like no other.
She explained they both felt their lives have been blessed by having had the opportunity to serve others and by seeing their three children proudly do the same.
While not having much materially, they felt they were the richest couple in the world.
Ivor passed away in 2001 after 55 years of “the most wonderful marriage anyone could ever imagine,” and now, at 87, her life is filled by frequent visits from those many people whose lives she and Ivor helped over the years and who have since become her “huge extended family.”
Before she ended the conversation Edna told me that the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365 is not only the greatest gift you can bring to the world but the greatest gift you can give to yourself.
An old saying tells us that “we are never so tall as when we bend down to help another” and the story of Edna and Ivor is indeed the story of two giants.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
P.S. Happy New Year.