Column: Reasons to be joyful


Commentary by Lorene Burkhart

When was the last time you felt a jolt of excitement about something you did for someone else? Maybe it was something you planned in advance and then enjoyed the anticipation of their response. Or maybe it was a spontaneous act or gesture that brought joy to both of you.

Several moments like this stand out to me. One was the planning of a citizenship celebration for a staff member of my retirement community. The recipient came to the U.S. from the Congo more than 10 years ago when he was 21 years old. He met and married another immigrant who was from Liberia. She, too, is now a naturalized citizen and has earned a nursing degree. He planned to complete his education to become an engineer. Kudos to them. Residents rejoiced with them at our special celebration for his new naturalized status.

The second was an opportunity to provide 100th-birthday greetings to our eldest resident. He emigrated from Austria to the U.S. in 1938, just prior to Hitler’s invasion. It was 1948 when he met his future wife, who was visiting relatives in the U.S. She had barely survived a concentration camp where all her family perished. Because of her horrible experiences, she suffered from nightmares the rest of her life. They never had children but moved from Washington, D.C., to Carmel to be near a nephew about 10 years ago. He was a statistician with the U.S. Census Bureau.

These experiences and other daily opportunities that are less dramatic remind us of how we can make a difference for ourselves and for others. ‘Tis the season to be grateful.