It’s cold. The days are short. The stores are crowded. So is the traffic.

Everyone’s in the home stretch in the race to celebrate Christmas — and, perhaps too exhausted to enjoy it when the day arrives.

No snow on the ground yet — and when it comes, many will complain about that.

It’s just enough to make everyone a little grouchy, or, perhaps more appropriately, Grinchy.

Whoa, everyone. Chill out. Take it easy.

Maybe it’s time to enjoy the journey. Time to adjust our attitudes. Time to look around, break the melancholy of the bleak brown landscape and bare trees.

Waiting for someone or something to get you “in the mood” for Christmas? Well, you’ve found that person. It’s the one in the mirror.

Time to be pro-active — reach down and find some cheer within.

To borrow a song title from the late great Glen Campbell, it’s time to “try a little kindness.”

When you’re in line at the window of a fast-food restaurant, pick up the tab for the car behind you.

Buy someone a gift card and send it anonymously.

When you go buy groceries, buy a little more and drop them off at a homeless shelter, halfway house or food bank.

Give a great big tip to that single mom or dad serving you in a restaurant who may be working two jobs.

Take a homebound senior citizen out to dinner or religious services, or dine with them in their retirement community if they can’t get out.

Call a friend you haven’t talked to in years. Yes, call. Do not text. Do not email. Do not send a personal message on Facebook. Call. Better yet, if they’re nearby, visit.

Drop off a plate of cookies or a meat and cheese tray at a fire or police station, particularly for those working an overnight shift. Or an emergency room, nurses station or hospice home, maybe in memory of a departed loved one.

If you see a man or woman wearing the uniform of our country in an airport, bus station or wherever, step up and shake their hand. Summon some courage to thank them for their’s. And their family’s.

If you’re separated from friends and family, give a present to yourself and don’t be alone. Find Christmas in the hearts of people of good will, to paraphrase Charles Dickens.

There’s at least two good opportunities right here in the Cedar Valley.

Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1301 Kimball Ave., will continue a tradition begun in 1981 when it hosts its annual free Christmas Day dinner from noon to 1:30 p.m. Diners are urged to call the church office at 234-5501 to make a reservation by noon Dec. 22.

A free Christmas Day dinner also will be offered at the Evansdale AMVETS, 706 Colleen Ave. from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Christmas Day, put on by organizer Pat Cummings-Jones, her family and a host of volunteers.

Both dinners also are looking for a limited number of volunteers. That, and a million other ways you can give to others, are an antidote to the Christmas blahs.

If you give, you’ll be surprised at how much you receive.

In fact, in the words of author C.S. Lewis, you may be surprised by joy — joy you can carry forward, because Christmas is a state of mind, not one date on the calendar.

Let it happen, for you and those around you.

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