Christmas is supposed to be a holiday of joy and hope. But according to psychologists, many Americans get depressed before and during Christmas. Expectations are too high, the build-up too long, the preparations too frantic. Money can be a problem, too. And loneliness. When Christmas finally comes, it often seems an anti-climax.
Yet the Yuletide also brings out the best in human beings. Usually stingy people cheerfully give to charities. No one wants to be regarded as a Scrooge.
Our hats are off to sixth-graders at Linthicum Elementary School, who are doing their part. They distributed baseball cards to children in 11 area hospitals who won't be able to be at home for the holidays.
The Linthicum students, whose inspiring story was reported by staff writer Consella A. Lee earlier this week, have been doing this community service work for the past four years. They have many allies, particularly Dan Miller, who owns a sports card store.
Last year, Mr. Miller donated 1,000 cards. This year, he gave 5,000. "It's pretty hard for anybody, especially a kid, to be in the hospital during the holidays," he explained.
Among Santa's helpers are Art St. Martin, a physical education teacher who has taught at the school for 28 years, and 10 members of the school's baseball club. They have donated their cards and bought more at flea markets. All these cards are then sorted by students, who eliminate doubles, create packs of 25 each and put them in protective sleeves. The school pays for the plastic sleeves and the $30 mailing cost, principal Sharyn Doyle says.
We are willing to bet that by the time all involved have done their good deeds, this kind of selfless activity has chased away the holiday blues.
In fact, getting involved in volunteer projects has always been among the best cures for the blues. Smiles and expressions of gratitude make everyone feel special. So think of organizations that do charity work and find out what you can do to assist them. The needs of such groups are wide-ranging. Some need drivers, others need office volunteers, still others need a little manual labor. The sports card project reminds us of a bumper-sticker that urges, "Commit random acts of senseless beauty."