With the sight of Mt. Hood's first snow, we all can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the winter holidays have finally arrived. This time of the year always fills my heart with the greatest joy. It's the perfect time of year to catch a coffee with your old best friends or put a smile onto someone's face. 'Tis the time to spread love and cheer by letting everyone know you care - even those who you have never met before.

The holiday season is a time to donate your thoughts and helping hands to those in need, and showing your true efforts to make our community a better place.

There is a certain magic in the air when you hear a dusty old copy of Frank Sinatra singing 'Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire' and the neighbors start to hang their icicle lights from the gutters. You start feel the excitement when your friends bring dreidels to school, or when Safeway starts selling their delicious eggnog. Everyone has their different traditions, and with all of them combined we are able to have the holiday season as it is today.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Yule or any other winter holiday, you can feel the sensation of a joyful peace that draws over the city as the season begins to roll in. The winter holidays are when you see even the stingiest of people begin to open their hearts to help others, and everyone begins to put in effort towards helping the less fortunate.

I can't help but feel proud when I see the community working together in such a way to bring happiness to each other. Even if it's just for a month or so, we are able to put aside our differences and accept one another for who we truly are.

I'm sure some of you have heard the remarkable story of Brenden Forester, the 11-year-old leukemia patient whose last wish was to donate food to the homeless. His story hits home when you read that his single selfless wish has brought hundreds of people together to care for those in need. You can't help but feel your heart swell when you hear about that kind of person in this world, a person who knows what this season is truly about.

Brendan isn't the only one trying to spread the holiday cheer to others, but there are thousands of other projects that exist to deliver the inspired message of the winter holidays. Ever since I can remember, every school I have gone to does some sort of donation drive where we collect old jackets, pants and any other useful household item. From an early age we are taught the importance of giving to others and understanding the reason behind it. We learn that there are those of us out there who have nothing and the smallest bit of something can make a world of a difference. I find myself happiest when I am able to bring happiness to others, and I know I'm not alone where I stand.

Every year we see the stores crammed with parents buying their kids the newest, coolest toy, boyfriends craning their necks to see the tiny price tags at Shane Co.'s jewelry counter. We all care about each other, and in the end it shouldn't even matter if we receive the world's largest diamond or a handmade card. What matters is the kindness that we show to others and how we go about demonstrating it.

The winter holiday is not only the time of year to gather around the fireplace with your family and friends and tell them what they mean to you. It's a time to create a random act of kindness. As a community we have the duty to let each other know that we actually care and donate to a better cause. No kind act will ever go unappreciated and or forgotten.

Don't be afraid to get out there and show a little more holiday spirit by supporting needy causes and by putting yourself arm deep in the midst of all the charity action. Each and every moment spent helping another is another step closer to a closer community. So this winter break, get out there and lend your able self to the causes!

Angela Ratto is a senior at Riverdale High School. She writes a column every month for the Lake Oswego Review. Contact her via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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