Spread cheer to everyone, even those unknown

A+Christmas+tree+sits+in+the+living+room+of+a+person%27s+home.

Photo Courtesy of Pixaby

A Christmas tree sits in the living room of a person’s home.

By Michael Bodenhagen, Staff Writer

The holiday season is usually either the most cheerful or the most depressing time of the year for most people. While some look forward to catching up with distant cousins and decorating gingerbread houses, there are many who unfortunately have nobody to celebrate with. The holiday season can be a cruel reminder of this sad reality for many. However, tragedy paves the way for triumph. This season also constantly presents the opportunity to make someone else’s day better than you could ever imagine. 

A few years back, my family invited a stranger to our Christmas; this Christmas party, in particular, left a lasting impression on my interpretation of the holidays. At the moment, I thought this Christmas would be ruined by this person my family invited over. Our mystery guest was a friend of my cousins and had no family of their own, so in good spirits, we extended an invitation to this person to the infamous Bodenhagen family Christmas. Well, I must admit, this guest of ours was not exactly the ideal guest. They were quite rude. I remember my cousin was getting particularly annoyed at this person for constantly giving unwelcome “advice” the whole night.

After what seemed like an eternity, our holiday party finally ended, and I thought to myself, “never again should we invite a random person into our house.” However, at that moment, I failed to realize the impact we made on this person’s Christmas. Those rude comments and unwelcome advice were not given with bad intentions, but rather because this person was so happy to be around other people during the holidays that they simply could not help themselves. A few days later we got a very kind letter in the mail from our guest, sincerely thanking us for our hospitality. 

Looking back on it, just because we may have been annoyed, our night was not ruined in any way by having this person over. Our guest still keeps in contact with our family since that magical year. By seeing how happy our guest was to be in the company of people, let alone strangers, I later realized just how important company can be. I have since changed my view of this night. I am now very happy that my family was able to make someone else’s holiday season a little brighter at little to no expense of our own.

Ever since that year, I have become a huge advocate of opening our door to anyone who might find themselves lonely during the holidays. This year, I am excited to say that I am once again hosting someone outside of my family for the holidays. My dear friend, who shall remain nameless, has traveled to America this semester for the first time to study at this very university. They know nobody here except for a handful of coworkers and students. They have no family here, so without hesitation, I reached out to them. This is exciting because not only will my dear friend escape solitude, but they will also get to experience the holidays in American style. So remember, if you find someone down in the dumps and lonely during the holiday season, you should open up your home to them (but still be wary of COVID-19).

And that is what the holidays are really about!

 

Michael is a senior in LAS.

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