Rediscovering the joy of Christmas

Published 9:01 pm Monday, December 23, 2013

Little feet scamper down the aisles. Squeals of laughter fill the toy section. Ten-year-old Lillian of Chesapeake’s Crestwood Intermediate School holds tightly to the skateboard she’s chosen, her face one big, contagious smile. Gerson of G.W. Carver Intermediate School heads straight to the video games. Nine-year-old Jacoya isn’t happy until she finds a gift for her brother.

It’s the ninth annual Kidz Kruz event, sponsored by the James C. Archbell III Foundation, and approximately 800 local children are given the opportunity to spend $20 at the Edinburgh Commons Walmart before meeting Santa and wrapping up this special event with a pizza dinner.

The radiant faces are all that Jay and Liz Archbell — and the volunteers who give of themselves every year to make these children’s holiday special — ask in return.

Email newsletter signup

As I watched the children pick out their toys, saw their eyes light up and big smiles break out on their small faces, I found myself thinking about how little it takes to spread joy.

A smile to a stranger. A warm “Merry Christmas.” A helping hand for the elderly gentleman whose arms are filled with packages. A holiday letter to the servicemember far away from her family.

For many Americans, though, a joyous Christmas may be a challenge this year. The economy sputters. Budgets are tight. Families struggle to make ends meet, cutting back on how much they do for Christmas. People are frustrated with the state of our nation.

But even during tough times, it doesn’t take much to spread joy. With just a little extra effort, you can brighten a stranger’s day, or reconnect with a neighbor. You can make Christmas a little less lonely for the homesick servicemember serving overseas.

With just $20, Jay Archbell helps fill one local child’s holiday with excitement and wonder.

This year, as we celebrate the joy and peace of the season, let’s take a moment to reflect on the needs in our community: those who are hungry or sick, and especially the men and women who sacrifice so much to defend our freedom.

One of the best Christmas gifts is the reminder of how rewarding it is to serve others. There are many wonderful organizations you can easily find in your community, where you can help make a difference.

Listening to the infectious laughter of the children filling the aisles of Walmart, I couldn’t help but be reminded that moments like these matter most.

Regardless of how you and your family celebrate the holidays, I hope you will join me in taking time to reflect on the true meaning of giving that lies behind the Christmas season. This year, let’s reach out to the people in our community, giving not just of what we have, but of ourselves.

Let us pause in gratitude for our loved ones, and for those who are far from their loved ones, that this nation might remain free. Because it’s when we put aside differences, pull together, and make an effort to bless those we touch, that we rediscover joy.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes represents Virginia’s Fourth District, which includes Suffolk, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Visit his website at