Glancing out the window during English class and to your pleasant surprise all that is visible is white. Flurries of delicate, soft and crisp, snowflakes flow through the air. And all it took was that one glance for a smile to spread across your face.
In your imagination, the snow quickly piles high, as do the layers on your body, and the size of the steaming, sweet hot cocoa. The snow proves the winter date written on the top right of your paper. It’s a season of celebration for those of us who can, and hopefully a time to help those who can’t necessarily.
One thing I always look forward to during the holiday season is the joy of giving.
Through the Cedarhurst-based charity Rock and Wrap it Up! each year my family and I join friends to donate and then give out toys to those in need at the First Congregational Church in Rockaway Beach on Christmas Eve. Rock and Wrap It Up! first collects new toys valued at $15 to $25, socks, hats, gloves and scarfs at the Woodmere firehouse. Volunteers are welcome to help wrap and organize the gifts on Dec. 16-20 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.
The experience is more special each time I volunteer at the church as I begin to understand the hardships of these people. Nevertheless, seeing the smiles on their faces as they are handed a wrapped present for Christmas is beautiful. Even more meaningful to me, the happiness and innocence of the children receiving gifts is an indescribable moment. The excitement in their face is irreplaceable and it’s what brings me back every Christmas.
For some, the holiday season includes reflecting on last year’s season, including Hurricane Sandy. Our neighborhood suffered immensely from losing power, to having backyards and basements destroyed. Losing over a week from school last year when most didn’t have power was very difficult for many.
“Looking back at Hurricane Sandy, I remember dealing with worrying about little things like getting to a warm house or staying safe. I lost power for about 16 days, and had lots of damage in my basement,” Sarah Husain, a Hewlett High School student from Woodmere, said. “This year it makes me especially thankful to know how lucky I am. I’m happy to spend time with my family and friends in a warm house this holiday.”
Many are similarly gracious this season for the simple comfort of being home. After many families were forced to live elsewhere during the storm, the simple ability to be home is worth praising. This holiday season, I am lucky to have so much to be thankful for.
As Matthew Broderick expressed perfectly in one of my favorite movies to watch during vacations, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
It’s important to appreciate the little things this holiday season. Taking a step back to admire the bigger picture, the positives outweigh the negatives. Just as each snowflake is distinct and beautiful, so are people and the memories you make with them — as long as you make sure to admire the beauty before it melts.