If consideration for others could be wrapped as a holiday gift, I would willingly brave Chicago winds to distribute it far and wide. 

Available to all, yet a mystery to many, consideration takes up no space. However, it can expand into every aspect of life, fueling altruism, and provide more satisfaction and grace than all the toys in the Sears Christmas catalog of my youth, combined! 

Thoughtfulness was reinforced in my mother by her methodical training as an Operating Room nurse. Expected to know what instrument to slap into the surgeon’s hand during any procedure, she admonished us children to anticipate others’ needs.

Our early requirements were quite straightforward. Pass the roll basket, and follow it with the butter, unrequested. Send the condiments all around the table, rather than simply helping yourself. Don’t smack your lips or speak with your mouth full, for fear of nauseating fellow dining companions. Eat what has been served, since you should be grateful to have a meal, though many others may not be so fortunate. 

Admonitions to be thoughtful and respectful were backed up by consequences for failure to comply. Parental displeasure was a strong motivator, when we were too young to really understand the larger picture. As our worlds widened and we were exposed to negligence and unkindness of various stripes, however, the inspiration for these family rules made much more sense.

Understanding, kindness and solicitude lubricate the wheels of human discourse. When a motorist waves another car into line ahead of him, he adds a positive counterbalance to the impatience so often expressed behind the wheel. Taking time to be respectful creates a ripple effect, person to person. 

Conversely, small, daily, selfish acts, multiplied by the 7.5 billion people on this earth, erode civility, fueling cynicism and hopelessness. 
Through introspection and positive actions, we can stoke the warmth and connection this season inspires.

The short, dark days are here. It is up to all to share light. (c)