Let Us Pause...

Let Us Pause...
Posted on 12/01/2016

By Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore, Jr.

A famous Christmas song includes a phrase that contains some unexpected wisdom for our consideration this holiday season. It is “Up on the Housetop.” The first line of those famous lyrics indicate that “reindeer pause.” This holiday season we would all do well to do the same.  

This holiday season may we pause to consider the meaning of what we are celebrating – regardless of our religious affiliation or absence of religious affiliation.  We may be celebrating religious rituals, family, historical events or cosmic influence.  No matter what your beliefs, life can get so busy that instead of making time to pause and enjoy the spirit of the season, we can begin to resent it as one more obligation. The older I get, the more I realize that the important events of life have little to do with work, wealth or even worry, but they do involve family, friends and faith. They are not driven by self-serving satisfaction but by sincere service.     

We can pause to remember those less fortunate. “Sub for Santa” activities are abundant this time of year, but it is less about what we buy for others than what we give to others. Often it is more about giving of our time than it is of our means – especially when it comes to family.  Taking time to visit, write a letter, make a phone call, or send an e-mail to cheer or to express gratitude to a family member or neighbor can be more valuable than any monetary gift..  

At the risk of sounding Scrooge-like, I caution against giving to those who play on our sympathies by soliciting directly on our streets or in front of our business establishments.  Many are aware of a couple that has for some time occupied positions at the off ramps of I-215 at Highland Drive seeking donations from passers-by. Clearly the effort was productive because they continued in their solicitation efforts month after month, as well-intentioned citizens would contribute. Even so, we received many complaints wondering if we couldn’t remove them or whether what they were doing was legal. As long as they remained on the sidewalk, they were lawful in their activities. Regrettably, the male was recently found deceased on the sidewalk from a drug overdose. It was truly a sad situation made more poignant by the fact that the cash donations given to this solicitor more than likely contributed to his addiction instead of purchasing necessities of life and seeking the help that he really needed.    

I have no doubt there are many in legitimately destitute situations who look for help on our streets, and they have the right to be in public areas. But before acting on the very natural desire to assist a fellow human being by offering cash, I would suggest pausing to realize that your direct donation may be used for purposes that may be detrimental to the recipient and even harmful. Instead, I suggest that you make a donation to an agency that is known to assist the needy and assures that your contribution provides food, shelter and medical attention as opposed to facilitating illicit activities that could lead to that person having serious medical issues or even death. Direct charitable giving helps where it will do the most good.  At a minimum, avoid providing cash to such solicitors. Instead, provide goods or other services.  

Pause this holiday season to count your own blessings. It does not take much comparison to realize that we are in a better situation than billions of others that share this planet with us regardless of what struggles we may be faced with. 

Pause to anticipate the events and traditions of the season regardless of what our struggles may be. Every year my wife and I look forward to the challenge of finding tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Program. Some years we are disappointed, but if we are diligent we can usually find some tickets somewhere. We look forward to family traditions that strengthen family ties – particularly anything involving our 10 grandchildren.  

Some have traditions of harvesting their own Christmas trees (with a proper permit, of course). Some like to tour the lights on Temple Square. Some gather for local cultural events that foster the spirit of the season such as a production of "A Christmas Carol," the city-sponsored Peter Breinholt concert or a production of "The Messiah."  

Whatever your holiday traditions, may you pause to enjoy this most unique time of year and celebrate with family and friends. From the Mayor, Council and city staff, we wish you a very Happy Holiday Season and may the new city snowplows find you early and often!