Sing "Deck the Halls," "Silent Night," "Jingle Bells" and all the old favorites this day, as we wait for Christmas to come.
But add another to the song list and take it to heart. From the mouth of an odd cartoon character, a yellow sponge whom parents are surely tired of by this time of year, comes sound Christmas advice:
"Don't be a Jerk," is the refrain and title of a SpongeBob SquarePants song that should run through our heads today as we navigate crowded parking lots and stores, racing around to finish up those last details we hope will make Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just perfect for all the children in our lives. Here are some lyrics from the jolly, contemporary song:
"There's a sign above the line that says 'Express'; That means 10 items or less; Don't be a jerk; It's Christmas..."
It gets even better:
"Be nice to babies and animals, old folks too; Cuz that's how you'd like them to treat you; Use turn signals, don't screen my calls, Don't you wreck the house when you deck the halls; Spit your gum where it won't wind up on my shoe; Squeeze toothpaste from the bottom of the tube. Don't be a jerk, It's Christmas..."
At the very least we should exercise kindness, patience and charity toward others on this final day of shopping, preceding our culture's biggest holiday. We should certainly be nice to babies, animals and old folks. Who could argue with such sage advice?
But don't do the least. Do the most. Keep in mind that today may be hectic, given the commercial nature of Christmas and expectations on parents and grandparents. But for a lot of people it's a day that reminds them of how little they have, relative to others.
All over the country, items sit in layaway today, waiting for buyers to show up and pay for them. In many cases, an item picked up on Christmas Eve is something the buyer can barely afford. The holiday pressures parents and grandparents to over-extend themselves, and on Christmas Eve day some consumers will scrounge together money they can ill afford to spend in a desperate, last-ditch effort to keep a child from going without.
While trying to avoid jerk-like behavior, those of stable financial means might consider approaching the layaway stand to anonymously pay for the layaway items of one or more strangers. Known as "layaway Santas," people who do this make an angel investment in society. They make it a kinder, more joyful, more Christ-like culture. Or, consider volunteering on Christmas at a community dinner. Consider writing off a debt. Forgive a grudge. Leave a big tip.
Christians believe Jesus came to this world to share the love of God, and to teach us how to live in kindness, love, charity and peace.
In final hours before Christmas, rich and poor alike should find ways to spread joy and happiness wherever they go and in all endeavors.