- I have been teaching a Cultural Diversity
course at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in Suzhou,
China for nearly four years now. I try my best to stay in touch with
some of my students who have transferred to various Universities outside
of China including the United States.
- Every semester there are special students that stand out from
the rest. It’s not for their remarkable intellectual skills but rather
they have a deep interest in going out and making a difference in the
world. My students are also fully aware that their educational
opportunities are a means to accomplishing their dreams.
- I tell them that when I was in college I enjoyed visiting
nursing homes and assistant living facilities. The history lessons that
an elderly person can provide are boundless. They are also living
witnesses to the events and things that made them who they are. Taking
the time to listen to what they have to say can make their lives more
purposeful and not to mention their life story can be priceless.
- When my students ask what my plans are for Christmas I simply
tell them. I am one of those people who simply enjoys the sharing and to
give thanks for the special people in my life. That truly makes this
time of year special for me especially here in Suzhou, China.
- I surely have plenty to be thankful for because throughout my
life people have gone out of their way to be kind to me and the Chinese
here are no exception. I once told my students in class when you care
for others you are cared for and when you love others you are loved.
This special season of giving should reveal our love for one another
through kindness because loving kindness gives this special season its
- Here like in America parents and children alike also take great
joy in Santa's arrival on Christmas Day. I also enjoy seeing the young
children's faces light up at the sight of Santa the jolly old soul.
- There was a time though when I felt the season of giving was
simply a common courtesy in order to receive and provide our significant
others with material gifts.
- I now understand more clearly that this special season is for
heartfelt acts of gratitude for having people in our lives. When keeping
the true spirit of giving close to our heart it enables us to give from
the heart all year-round.
- The yuletide season should be a time when our love comes to call because that love gives this time of year its true meaning.
- I have found over the years, though, that it's not the material
gifts that count in life but rather it's the unrecognized, undetected
and unremembered acts of loving kindness that are our greatest gifts and
achievements in life.
- If we truly want to see a world of loving and joyous people we
must be loving and joyous toward the people in our own lives. That
potential is part of our humanity. When we reach out and touch others we
touch part of the humanity that is within us. When we enhance the life
of another in need we in turn enhance our own lives.
- Objects gift-wrapped in shiny paper can be forgotten over time
but kindness whispered to those in need will echo endlessly throughout
the community. Those small acts of kindness resonate with the giver and
the receiver because they are gifts from the heart. Such priceless gifts
can never be measured monetarily though because how can you put a price
- From my heart to yours I would like to wish all of you a very merry and joyous holiday season.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
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- Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link: