Regarding the buildup to Christmas, C.S. Lewis had this to say:

“Long before December 25th everyone is worn out — physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think out suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making; much less (if they should want to) to take part in a religious act. They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.”

Too true. Our exhaustion is surely a sign that we’re doing things wrong. And, sadly, the people who take the worst beating from it are the people often least acknowledged: retail workers.

They are the poor souls who bust their tails to keep shoppers happy while absorbing the brunt of stressed managers and emotional shoppers. Yes, folks who work in retail signed up for the job and some of them would prefer to work during the holidays for a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, they cannot control the humanity that is surging and swirling around them.

We’re all busy and have places to go and things to buy. But we can carry ourselves differently, we do not need to reserve the “Christmas spirit” for only our friends and family. Rather, let us in these final days of Christmas shopping have a little more patience, a little more generosity, and a little more empathy for the workers around us. While we can’t change the world, each of us, by our own actions, can brighten the life of another – even if it is just momentarily.

That goes for not just retail workers, but also those who are often taken away from their families during the holidays, working extra hours so that others may have the “perfect” Christmas. Think of the postal workers, the FedEx and UPS drivers and stockers, the Amazon workers, and so many others. Remember, too, the emergency personnel and essential services folk who are there for us in times of trouble and who keep the lights on, the water running, and the roads cleared.

Here’s to everyone who’s working hard through the holidays! Thank you.