EDITORIAL: Christmas is over, now what? 

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(Cayla Grace Murphy)

Ah, Christmas.  

This writer has never seen the community of Cullman pull together so tightly until wreaths are strung amid streetlights, the Warehouse District is beset in Edison bulbs and the sound of Christmas classics follows you everywhere you go. The entire tone of our town switches from a busy hustle to slow down and smell the poinsettias.  

In an effort to spread holiday cheer, and avoid the naughty list, we change up our usual behaviors. We tip a little extra to our servers and baristas. We let our kids have hot chocolate right before bedtime. “It’s Christmas!” we shrug. We even forgive lackadaisical shoppers with their carts parked precisely in front of the specific brand of mayonnaise we need. We stop in shops we haven’t visited all year to spend our money on locally made goods. We splurge on restaurants with juicy steaks and warm rolls. We thumb through a box of recipe cards to land on Mamaw’s recipe for peanut butter cookies, as if Christmas itself is the only occasion worthy enough to roll out the dough.  

It is, certifiably, the most wonderful time of year.  

What if the rest of the year could be just as wonderful? 

This year, hundreds of kids in our community were sponsored through toy drives hosted by churches and nonprofits. Dozens of unhoused residents of Cullman got fresh, warm blankets and toiletries. It seemed everywhere you looked, a meal was hosted by a church, open to the community to join in, to dine as strangers and leave as friends. Santa has come and gone, but our community is still here. And the need we joyfully met this month will still be here next month. 

It is undeniable that folks come together for Christmas. Maybe it is the birth of Jesus Christ, maybe it is a celebration of a tough year coming to an end. Or maybe it’s the one time of year we allow ourselves to truly care about our neighbors. 

I will tell you, as Christ tells us, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Perhaps meeting the needs of the community seems less important to some if it is not tied to the birth of Christ. Maybe Christmas bonuses make it easier to give, maybe we are one of the ones enjoying a community meal and opening a donated toy on Christmas morning. Maybe it’s just not feasible to spread that kind of joy and merriment year-round. 

But can’t we try? 

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