The photo on our Christmas card for 2020 did not turn out the way I envisioned it in my head. Things rarely do. Almost nothing in 2020 turned out the way any of us envisioned it in our heads either. We all expected normal—graduations, weddings, fairs, vacations—and what we got was a pandemic with a side of partisan politics—complete with catch-phrase cliches we’d all rather forget. Anyone else sick of hearing, “We’re all in this together?” It has been a year of mourning—mourning the loss of loves ones, the loss of beloved events and groups that can’t happen, the loss of “normal.” And, let’s be honest, it is wearing us all quite thin as we head into the holiday season.
The bright spot of Christmas is that Hope is among us. In 2021, let’s take hold of the Hope that can override sickness, poverty, politics, race, and division. Back in January I declared 2020 The Year of the Completed Project at our house. Now I’m encouraging everyone to make 2021 The Year of 21 Miles. Plot a circle with a radius of 10½ miles from your home and ask yourself what you can do to make your 21-mile “bubble” a better place. Buy a bag of groceries for the local food shelf each week. Mow the lawn of the neighbor who is having a hard time getting things done. Pay for the gas of the car next to you at the pump. Give a mom who’s at the end of her rope a couple kid-free hours and babysit her children for an afternoon. Don’t judge who deserves your help, just give. Maybe the guy driving the BMW doesn’t NEED you to pay for his coffee but doing it anyway will send a message to him that might fix something he does need. Not all needs are visible, and it’s not our job to determine who is deserving of assistance; we should just make a practice of thinking at any given moment, “What is the maximum amount of good I can do right now?” The more overlapping “bubbles” we have of people doing their maximum amount of good at each moment the greater the results. So for 2021, just worry about your 21 miles and the rest of your state, country, and world will likely “magically” sort itself out.