Let’s continue the season
What happens to the Christmas spirit the day after New Year’s? The following are five apocryphal vignettes we may want to keep in mind long after the season of peace on earth and goodwill towards men has passed.Cleaning ladyA professor gave his college freshman biology class a pop quiz, including a seemingly irrelevant final question: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” Surely this was some kind of joke, the students thought. Most had seen the cleaning woman, she was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would they know her name?As one student handed in his paper with the last question blank, another asked if the last question would count toward their quiz grade. “Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.” The young man never forgot that lesson. He also learned that her name was Dorothy.Keep life in perspectiveIn a university commencement address several years ago, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company spoke of the relation of work to one’s other commitments: “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered and they will never be the same.” The CEO went on to tell the assembled students: “Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you are going. Don’t forget a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Don’t be afraid to learn – knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily. Don’t use time or words carelessly, because neither can be retrieved.”The least among us In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. “How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked. “Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it. “Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied.The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back to the table, she saw two nickels and five pennies placed neatly beside the empty dish. You see, the little boy didn’t order the sundae because he had to have enough left to leave the waitress a tip.Obstacles in our path In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand – every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.Give when it really matters: Years ago, a little girl named Liz was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. The boy hesitated for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save her.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled as he saw the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away.” Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor. He thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.The holiday season may be over but as these vignettes illustrate, we don’t have to allow its spirit end, as well.Butch Mazzuca, a local Realtor and ski instructor, writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com Vail, Colorado
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