“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities With Christmas fast approaching, most of us will be rushing about — either to the stores and malls or on-line — to do our holiday shopping in hopes of finding that “perfect” gift for our family members and loved ones. Although economic uncertainty, spurred by record-high inflation, affects almost every American, most of us are doing okay, if not extremely well, thanks to record-low unemployment rates. However, the strong economy (from an employment standpoint) being enjoyed by the majority of Americans has not been shared by all. For a sizable number of our fellow citizens, the lingering effects of the pandemic, as well as the fraying of the fabric of our social safety net in recent years, have come together to create an existential disaster. Millions of Americans of all ages, in a percentage greater than at any time since the Great Depression, are struggling financially, even if they have a job. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, more than 34 million Americans, including nine million children, are food insecure. Far too many of our fellow citizens, including children, live either in shelters or in similar temporary housing arrangements — or on the streets — because the reality of our economy has left them out in the cold — literally. For these millions of Americans, the holiday season brings no joy. Psychologists tell us that the Biblical directive, that we should give to those who are less fortunate, is the best gift that we can give to ourselves. Helping others activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating the so-called “warm glow” effect. Never in the lifetime of anybody reading this editorial has the need for contributions to local food banks been more urgent. There will be ample opportunity in the coming days to make the holidays brighter for those who are struggling just to get by, whether it be donations to local food banks and toy programs (such as the Winthrop Food Pantry or the Police Dept.’s Toy Drive) or even as simple as dropping a few dollars in the buckets of the Salvation Army Santas. For those among us who are among the fortunate, there is no excuse for failing to do so.