December 22nd, 2010

Christmas Three Cheers

Being the editor in chief of Organic Gardening gets me into all sorts of places. And on Monday I was included in a group from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society on a visit to the White House to view the Christmas décor.

The First Lady’s theme this year is Simple Gifts. In her introduction the little guide book describing the decorative elements, she writes, “…we invite you to find joy in the everyday gifts that surround us, and to take pleasure in the simple ways we can enrich the lives of others.”

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“From our unending gratitude for American’s service members to the abiding love we share with our family and friends, each of us can brighten the holiday season for others in the little ways that really do make all the difference.”

The tree decorated for the Armed Services was especially thought-provoking, not least because my son is in the Army. He is not deployed, and will be with us for Christmas. So, as I wrote a note to be sent to a service member who will remain on duty in some distant place far from loved ones and home comforts and safety, I thought how their sacrifice made my holiday possible.

And as I moved with the crowd through the rooms, spotting Senators and young White House staffers clasping clipboards and action ready, and admiring the wealth of American art and furnishings while enjoying the carol singing of the New Amsterdam Singers, I recalled what I knew of the history — good, bad and indifferent — that has been made in that building, and the ways in which those actions had impacted the lives of others, at home and around the world. And not always for the better, either.

But that is realpolitik. Me, I’m a believer in feeling-in-the-head politics, and the notion that one random act of kindness can make the most significant difference. So today, two days before Christmas, when thoughts of gifts and sharing are absorbing my attention, I was gripped by news of Sally Goodrich’s death. In 2004, she established a school for Afghan girls in the midst of Taliban controlled country, doing so to commemorate the loss of her son Peter, who died when UA 175 was flown by terrorists into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in 2001. She later said, “Anyone who’s in pain should have the experience of being plunked down in a place where everyone is heartbroken.”

I believe that knowledge is power, so my gift to my family, my friends, my colleagues at work and to all I care about most deeply, is a donation to the Peter M. Goodrich Memorial Foundation. Changing the world, one woman at a time.

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    Ethne! How fun! I’m tweeting this to my website.

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