Jean Paul Sartre once had a character utter a line best translated as ‘hell is other people.’ That line has been used, and abused, by many people since, usually when they are upset with the state of the world and the people in it.
If that line is true I wonder if the obverse is also true, could heaven be ‘other people?’ I know I am extraordinarily blessed in my wife, children, extended family, co-workers, classmates and more. In every facet of my life I find extraordinarily good people. As a parent I’ve helped my wife raise three children who all take responsibility for the welfare of others. As a teacher 99.9% of my students have turned out just fine. I work for and with gifted people in my school and I’ve worked here long enough that I now work with three former students of mine and nothing is better for a teacher than to help produce the next generation of educators. As a lay minister I get to work with even more former students who have become, and are still becoming, wonderful adults who are caring and compassionate.
This time of year can be about commercialization and people complain about that ad nauseum so I won’t ride that particular horse here. It can also be a deeply religious time for those so inclined, and I am so inclined, though I know many are not. I think for everybody though, it can be a time to look at the ones around you and ask if they truly are ‘heaven or hell’ for you and perhaps ask yourself honestly “What am I for them?”