In my inbox today, an email from a good friend wishing me a very happy holiday season, lots of smiles, and then a small, seemingly-insignificant line: “Maybe next year, you should stop pretending to care about other people and just worry about yourself.”
I know that the email, and that line, was well-intended, but it still hurt. Mainly, because I get comments like that every day of my life — some nicer than others.
It’s not uncommon for me to be told that I should stop “pretending” to care about how other feel. It’s not uncommon for people to say that the things I do to try and make people smile are disingenuous and fake. It’s not uncommon for people to accuse me of lying on this site, making up stories for my own self-edification. It’s not uncommon for some to look at the things I do for the people I love and accuse me of harboring ulterior motives, for scheming, for wanting something that’s not there.
I get those kinds of messages, those types of comments, every day. I ignore them regularly, but before I push them away to the back of my mind, the back of my inbox, the back of my direct messages list, I’m always struck by sadness.
It’s easy to be cynical, these days.
I am truly sad for those people who are quick to jump to skepticism and disenchantment when they witness beauty and kindness, especially during the holidays. My Christmas wish is that we’re able to wake up tomorrow morning with a sense of wonder and amazement at all the lovely things around us, at all the amazing things people are doing for others, every day.
It’s easy to be cynical, but it’s important to remember that everywhere in the world, there are people who smile at you because they are happy to see you, and not because they are scheming or plotting. There are people who ask how you’re feeling because they want to make sure you are okay, not because they feel that it’s their duty. There are people who do things for you because they want to see you happy, not because they want something in return.
There are people who will sacrifice, and give, and care, and share because they love you dearly — love you not with any hope of reciprocation, or with any desire of wanting more, or with any ulterior motives, but love you because you are, indeed, special to them in so many different ways.
It’s easy to be cynical, but it’s only when we cast off the cynics around us and shed our own doubt and skepticism that we are able to fully appreciate the beauty and wonder in the people, in the world around us. The next time we witness something good, something special, something beautiful, maybe we need to stop asking why that person is acting so wholeheartedly and dedicatedly, and instead just admire their spirit.
Apologies for this perhaps prescriptive post, especially on Christmas Eve. I’ll stop proselytizing now.
Happy Christmas, everyone. Hope your holidays are filled with joy and laughter and family and friends and unending displays of selfless love.