Why I Love Christmas . . .

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.  ~Roy L. Smith

Christmas is my most favourite time of the year and this year, as I write my 173rd blog posting of 2011, I am taking the time to pause and reflect on just why I love Christmas.

The obvious reason why most people like Christmas is the opportunity to be with family, which for me is very important.  This year I was able to spend time with my eldest daughter and her husband in San Francisco and also spend an even longer amount of time with my youngest daughter at our home in France.  In fact, right this moment as I am writing this blog at my dining room table, Stephanie is practicing her violin (part of her 2 hours a day) and learning the Mendelssohn concerto in E minor.

Everyone also talks about the spiritual significance of the Christmas season and how it reminds us of what is really important in this short life of ours.  The significance of peace on earth, the hope for health and happiness for all, the reminder that there is a force greater than all of us and a set of human ideals and behaviours that should be our daily guide through life.

I do like these things about the Christmas season, but for me, the real reason I love this time of year is that everyone does their best to be nice.  The world just tends to get a little nicer.  People in restaurants and shops end their transactions with, “and have a Merry Christmas”. And the smiles are genuine.  People in the City of London dust off their manners this time of year and open doors for others, smile more, donate to the Salvation Army, stop and listen to the buskers playing music in the underground.  Men even give up their seats to elderly women on the tube!  It’s the fact that people go out of their way to be nice that makes Christmas extra special for me.

Here’s a thought.  What if we practiced being nice to others all year-long?  What if young people on  the subway gave their seat to the elderly, opened doors for others, smiled more, said the three magic words more often: Please, and Thank You.  I can just imagine how this “spirit of nice” would transform my morning underground experience, or the drive to work on the freeways.  We could replace road rage with smiles and taking turns.  The one thing I admire most about London cabbies is their road etiquette.  They are trained to deliver Christmas behaviour all year-long. A far cry from the normal behaviour of New York taxi drivers.

As I look around my world in the 21st Century and watch how societies behave I must say I am appalled at the “in your face” attitude that is so characteristic of today’s news, television programs.  How children behave towards their elders, their teachers, even their parents.  We have created a  “me first – you last” culture that is not much fun or inspiring. To me, the loss of “nice” as a value is one of the biggest changes I have witnessed in society during my 63 years.

So, I am going to try an experiment in 2012.  I am going to carry “Christmas behavior” with me all year-long.  I will give up my seat to the elderly on the bus and subway.  I will say thank you and please after every transaction.  I will smile more at others.  I will let others go first and open doors for others.  I might stop short of putting my coat over a puddle to let others pass, but you get the picture.  And I wonder what it would be like if everyone practiced “Christmas nice” throughout 2012, and really meant it!

I hope we meet in 2012.  I look forward to interacting with you with my spirit of Christmas.  Maybe “nice” will catch on.  The world could certainly use it.

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

E | john@johnrchildress.com      T | +44 207 584 3774      M | +44 7833 493 999

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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