Where is the best place to find the Christmas spirit?
If asked this question, you might answer with a midnight mass in an incense and pine-scented, old church on Dec. 24th. An icicle-glazed winter wonderland might very well harbor the Christmas spirit. Or, you might find the Christmas spirit in the form of a family, reading “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” in front of a warm, cozy fireplace.
What about a gym?
It seems like an odd answer. But I believe there is something magic that happens within the walls of a gym this time of year.
Just the other day, the December clouds loomed low above our town, trying their best to instill a sense of gloominess. Inside, warmth prevailed. As typical, I began chatting with one of our members. I had just found out he was a schoolteacher, and asked how he liked it.
He began to talk about how rewarding it can be. And presently, he is going through his most profoundly gratifying experience yet. His eyes lit up with genuine excitement as he spoke about a blind student from Africa who he has been helping. He explained how grateful he is for the opportunity.
Not much later, a middle-aged couple walked through the door. I like all our members, but I’m especially partial to these two. They are there faithfully, never missing a beat. Over the months, I have learned that they spend their Saturday mornings in a church, making toys for needy children.
After their workout, they say goodbye and leave. A minute later, the woman returns. I assume she has forgotten something.
“I wanted to show you this,” she says.
She is clutching the most beautiful, nostalgic, homemade toy I have ever seen. It is a solid, wooden teddy bear, complete with a smile, wheels and a painted blue basketball jersey. It’s a timeless piece of art. A child would have killed to see this under his tree in the fifties. And now? To open a precious gift like this instead of video games and tech gadgets? A kid could only be so lucky.
I am honored and humbled to have been shown this work of magic.
Finally, my last client arrives. She is a traveling nurse; here for a short time. She has been a wonderfully enthusiastic and fun trainee and I dread the day she moves. Our ongoing joke is that we are both “Yankees” (she is North-Dakotan and I am Minnesotan) and our last session involved talk of our native dishes.
Eagerly, she approaches with a small package. It is lefsa, a traditional potato bread that us Yankees would be hard-pressed to find here in the Bluegrass. I am astonished that she brought such an individualized and meaningful gift. Yes, it might just be a packet of lefsa, but to those of us who live so far away from our families, it’s a little taste of home.
I believe that people who work out are generally good people. If you want to feel good on the outside, it’s only natural to want to feel good on the inside. Just like with the well-established runner’s high, you leave a good gym session feeling like you’re walking on air.
People come to the gym to build muscle. But they’re also building their hearts. And one can never have too big of a heart, especially at Christmas.
And what happened then–well, in Whoville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.
And then the true meaning of Christmas came through,
And the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches–plus two.