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'tis the season to celebrate 

We're been discussing the idea of featuring an ageless woman in need in each issue, so we can all join hands and change somebody's life. If you know of someone who is in exceptional need, share her story with me. Even if she is not selected as the woman featured in the next issue, we will have a page with all the stories that our readers can choose to read if they are looking for a woman they can help. Please mail your story to us with a notarized, signed release from the woman in need. We don't have to use a name in the magazine, but we don't want to feature someone's story without their permission. Go here to find and print the release form.

Montrose holds a bachelor’s degree and two associates degrees from Kent State and has her own business, Helping Hands Computers & Things. She is employed by Washington & Lee in Lexington, Virginia, and applies her creativity and many talents as an active community volunteer – in service projects like the Rockbridge County Community Table. She is active in her church and currently serves as the President of the Women’s Ministry for the Berean Valley Baptist Association. Montrose is married to Rev. Dr. Louis F. Grandberry, Pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Stuarts Draft. They are the parents of six sons, three daughters and 21 grandchildren. She enjoys encouraging youth and assisting the elderly. In her scant spare time, Montrose is an avid golfer.

Helping

Hands

The end of the year means...the holiday season. Halloween and Thanksgiving are behind us, but Christmas is just around the corner.

 

At least those are the holidays my family celebrated. Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa and other holidays celebrated by various cultures also mark this time of year.

 

What all the celebrations have in common is that they celebrate faith, family, tradition and love. 

 

 

And if you once had a faith and it's fallen by the wayside and the season is calling you home, it wouldn't hurt to find a church of your choosing and pay the big guy a visit. (Hey, I'm a pastor's wife. It's my job to say things like that.

There was a time, when I was a child and when my sons were little, that I so looked forward to these days - to the excitement of decorating and dressing up for the various holidays. Each special day held its own checklist of things to do and traditions to celebrate.  We couldn’t wait for them to arrive and were always sad when they were over.

 

But over the years, I almost came to dread the holiday season and I know that I am not alone.

Every year at this time, you will read magazine articles that talk about how bad all that candy is at Halloween. They will rant about how we eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and then trample each other the next day on Black Friday. There's plenty of talk about how children of all colors and cultures climb up into the lap of a white Santa and look into the manger at a white baby Jesus. (They used to open up gift-wrapped boxes with white baby dolls, too, but now baby dolls come in all colors just like people).

 

They will tell you how we spend money we don't have buying gifts none of us need as our society grows more and more materialistic.

And then they always talk about how we eat too much and gain too much weight and we're all getting diabetes and heart disease because of “Christmas cookies." If the cookies aren't killing us, take a look at the suicide statistics for this time of year.

 

All of that may be true, but I don't have the solutions for all of those problems in my little column. We probably all should ponder those issues, but none of that is why I came, over the years, to dread the holiday season.

 

I actually love the holidays. In spite of everything I read that tells me I shouldn't. What I dread is not having children to dress up on Halloween. I dread eating turkey without a fight over the wishbone. I dread no patter of little feet on Christmas morning.

 

My sons are grown, and up until recently, I allowed distance to keep me from enjoying them and my grandchildren. Granted, I still don’t plan on going to Ohio in December, but we are able to visit at other times of the year, and I am not as sad about it as I used to be. Why? Because instead of spending the holidays alone and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to spend the holidays making sure others were not alone.

I am telling you this so that hopefully you can understand that there are those of us out here that need you - people you'd never expect might need you. We need you to include us in your celebrations.

 

Look around.  I am sure that you know that friend or family member who keeps to themselves and rarely participates in holiday celebrations. Talk to them about their plans for the holidays. Take a few minutes to really LISTEN to them when they talk. People love to talk about their favorite memories of the holiday season. Invite them over to share in a meal with you. You know that you always have way more than you need on your holiday table!

 

What if you can't afford a gift for them? Most families these days struggle to afford presents for their children, so you don't have to buy them a gift. Invite them to come at a time you know the unwrapping of gifts will be over. Maybe you can pick up a small trinket for a dollar at one of the dollar stores and wrap it prettily to give to them later. Something to unwrap is better than nothing.

To those - like me - who are struggling with difficult emotions at this time of year, don’t just sit around and sulk. It really is unbecoming. I finally had to accept that if my holiday was going to be miserable, I might as well try to make someone else's holiday better.

 

Do something for someone else. That's the answer. And try to do it with joy.

 

I believe that our world is in the condition that it is in precisely because we have a serious lack of love. So many of us talk about Jesus being the reason for the season. Unfortunately, some of us act like we never read a word Jesus said to us. We talk about what’s wrong with the world, but we will not go out of our way to show those around us that we care about them. People are stretched so thin. I think many of them do not even realize they are not walking in love, or they are too tired to care. 

 

Especially in the holiday season, try to summon the energy to care. Volunteer at your local food pantry, nursing home or your local elementary school. There are others who are suffering and could use your smile and your presence. Love, faith, family, kindness, children, generosity, gratitude, love. Those are the real reasons for the season. Jesus said so. If you don't believe me, reread the red letter passages in the Bible.

See that little star hanging up there on your right? You know the story of the wise men who followed the star to Jesus? YOU could be the star that someone might follow to find Jesus.

Now, I'm a pastor's wife whose husband pastors a Baptist church, so I talk about Jesus and his message of love. But if you're not a Christian, I assure you that every major world religion teaches the practice of compassion and love. You don't have to be a follower of Jesus like me to practice love.

Be light in darkness. 

No matter your faith - or even if you don't have any faith - my challenge to you this holiday season is to step outside of your comfort zone and do something meaningful for someone else. No matter where you live, there are ways that you can help. If you can’t find something, let me know. I’ll be more than happy to help connect you with a local group that is in need of an extra set of hands or a little extra dough. 

 

When you do I promise that you, like me, will enjoy the holidays once again. 

A tiny flame can banish darkness, but no matter how dark it gets, the darkness cannot extinguish the light of one tiny candle. I say it again: be light in darkness. Be the change you want to see in your neighborhood, your church, your grandchild's school. Be the love that you want to see in the world. Be the reason someone believes in goodness.

Merry Christmas (yes, we're allowed to say it) and happy holidays to all of you - all faiths, all cultures, all sizes, all genders, all colors. (And all breeds - we can't forget our furry friends during the holidays).