It’s wonderful walking in shopping malls and downtown streets these days. People are joyful at Christmas time. Everybody is shopping for their loved ones and many people have nice Christmasy gift bags in their hands. Above all, Christmas makes a perfect atmosphere. I have heard a lot of Christmas carols these days and I liked most of them. But there was one by Christina Aguilera that made me gloomy when I heard it. She sings:
Oh how much joy it is at Christmas time
The spirit of giving is in our lives
Oh, oh how much joy it brings to see the ones you love
This year’s gonna be the best Christmas because
There’ll be family and Christmas cheer
Peace and goodwill to all men
Everybody is home for Christmas
Everybody is home…
For me, however, nobody is home for Christmas this year. Being new in the city, not having many friends, not having my loved ones near me or even someone who I can buy a gift for — all of this adds up to loneliness. I thought about what to do on Christmas Day when everyone is celebrating with family. The only thing that came to my mind was going to the cinema and watching a movie. I didn’t have a better choice!
I forgot that I am in Calgary, a city famous for its hospitality and philanthropy, where everyone’s heart beats for others.
Again United Way made my day. Being a volunteer at United Way, I got to know a couple of people. One of United Way’s employees invited me to her home where they are celebrating Christmas with her parents and grandparents. I found it so kind, but told her that I don’t want to inconvenience a private family gathering. Her reply was really touching. She said that she has the chance to be near her family and friends, so why not share this happiness with the ones who miss it? This was a very gracious philosophy.
Another day I received an invitation from somebody else saying that she is opening her house to anyone who does not have a place to go for Christmas dinner.
Two months prior, I heard the word “philanthropy” for the first time. I didn’t even know what it means. Now not only do I know it, but I have felt it and experienced it.
Philanthropy is not just donating money or things; it is also sharing precious moments with those who are in need of those moments.
—Nasim Khatibi is a communications advisor, and a volunteer at United Way of Calgary and Area
Photo from Flickr, by JSmith Photo