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Our View: Be the change you expect others to be

Posted: November 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.

It’s been a tough year of economic bad news and a tough election season. Even as we call for unity and compromise among our elected leaders, we seem even more polarized ourselves. How can we expect better from them?

Even for those who emerged victorious on Nov. 6, it’s not so much “Hope and Change” anymore as it is “Hang on and Pray.”

We try to soothe ourselves with the trickle of economic good news, but we’ve seen it before and we doubt its longevity — or sufficiency — to pull us out of the slump.

Now we find ourselves in the season of tinsel and turkey, wishes of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. A holiday originating in hope that seems more now to be about U.S. consumerism.

No surprise the silver bells ring hollowly.

So how to recapture the joy of the season?

We submit that the trick lies with the holiday just behind us and with the community around us.

This will sound hokey, but take the time to sit down and make a list of those things, people, places or conditions for which you are grateful. Do it today. Consider everything — your health, or at least your life; your job or your unemployment check; your family, even if they try your patience. Consider the kindness of strangers and friends. The roof over your head and the sunshine outside the window. The education you’ve enjoyed that lets you read, write and figure.

You’ll be surprised at the change in attitude this brings.

Try saying thanks to the supermarket cashier. Hug your kids and tell them what you love about them. Leave out the rest. Brighten someone’s day by complimenting their hair, their clothes, their smile. Call your mother.

Now take your changed attitude and look around you. Where can you help? It doesn’t need to be a big deal — maybe sweep off your neighbor’s porch when you sweep off your own. Bake some cookies and surprise the folks at the Senior Center, the Boys & Girls Club or the YMCA with them.

Write a letter to a soldier overseas and contact a local group to find out how to deliver it. There are several around — visit to find out more.

Visit the Newhall Community Center and chat with the kind folks there about what’s needed. Stop by Newhall Bicycle or the Church of Hope in Canyon Country and find out from them what can be done to help the needy in those areas.

Write a check for whatever you can spare to the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry (it’s at 24133 Railroad Ave., Santa Clarita 91321). If you can’t afford anything, check out other ways to help at

Set yourself the goal of doing one random kind act a day. It’ll be tough at first. You’ll forget sometimes. Forgive yourself and try again.

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or the winter solstice, you’ll be on your way to recapturing the spirit of the season. Get started this evening. At 7 p.m., the Metrolink Holiday Toy Express rolls into the Newhall train station all decked out for the holidays. Pick up a new toy and drive over there. Share some hot chocolate with your neighbors and a gift with an underprivileged child.

Be grateful for the chance.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Plancio (54 BC)



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