Every year at this time, TV viewers get a steady diet of the holiday classic, "Christmas Vacation."
There are any number of great scenes in the movie, including the one in which a disappointed Clark opens a package sent to his home only to find that instead of the big bonus he was hoping to use for a new swimming pool, his miser of a boss has enrolled him in the Jelly of the Month Club.
Not to worry, though. As Cousin Eddie points out, "Clark, that's the gift that keeps on giving the whole year."
That line always gets a lot of laughs, but there's a lot of truth to it. As we rush around from here to there, we're all trying to find the equivalent of the Jelly of the Month Club membership. That is, we're trying to get a gift that really does keep on giving the whole year. We don't want to buy something that gets tossed into the back of the closet, never to see the light of day again. We want to hit the target – make a difference.
Some of us will succeed with that effort. Others, not so much. But it won't be because we failed to try.
All of this came to mind when thinking upon the recent retirement of Bruce Killian who retired after 22 years of service with Springfield Township. Killian, 62, was a trustee for most of that time and also served as fiscal officer.
Every community – every club, organization and church – needs a Bruce Killian. It needs someone who personifies the adage of giving the gift that keeps on giving. It is the best gift of all. It is timeless and valuable.
What a legacy Killian has left. His service has helped more people than he could ever hope to know. After all, 22 years is a long, long time.
Everybody in Springfield owes a debt of gratitude to Killian. Trustees don't take the job to get rich. That's never going to happen. They do so simply because they want to help.
So, in a lot of ways, with a salary that averages out to an hourly rate that puts the minimum in the term minimum wage, people like Killian are glorified volunteers.
But forget about the pay – or lack thereof – for a minute.
Ditto for the long hours and the lack of appreciation.
Instead, focus on the satisfaction of giving – and giving back – something that is really needed.
Now, not all of us can – or want to – serve in government. No matter what you do, there's always someone who is unhappy. You can never please everyone. It's a thankless job.
And fewer of us have the will and determination to do it for over two decades.
Page 2 of 2 - But there are all kinds of other endeavors where, while you are a volunteer in the truest sense of the word with no paycheck of any kind, the satisfaction you get from your work is so rewarding that you really do feel like the richest person in the world. It comes from rolling up your sleeves and lending a hand.
If we really want to make a difference in this world we should spend a little time handing out blankets, meals and ensuring everyone has a place to stay. Sometimes, what we're providing is something less tangible, but maybe more valuable. Sometimes, all we need to give is a shoulder to cry on, an arm to steady wobbly knees or an ear to listen.
We consider all these needs now, at this time of year, because it's trendy. It's Christmas, the season of giving, so if we're ever going to pitch in, it will be now while the thought is in the air.
But needs don't magically go away when the clock strikes midnight and the page on the daily calendar flips over to Dec. 26.
The weather changes, but the needs don't. When one need starts to be filled, another one opens up. None of us can ever solve all the needs, but we can try to chip in and do what we can when we can. It's our duty as human beings.
The best gifts really are, as Cousin Eddie said, the ones that keep on giving the whole year.
Tomorrow's a new day, and with it will come any number of opportunities to jump into the fray and do your thing.
Those needs never take a vacation, even on Christmas.
So, what do you say?