From the title, you probably think I’m some kind of Grinch. Believe me, that could not be further from the truth. I actually love Christmas, and it is my absolutely favorite holiday. I love the lights, the family time, and the overall joviality of the season. It ‘s almost as if something is in the air that makes everyone happy and loving towards one another. This Christmas, though, has been different for me. In past Christmas’, I was so focused on what I would receive under my Christmas tree, and how many people would send me Christmas greetings. I focused more on receiving than giving, and lost the fact that Christmas is supposed to celebrate Christ first. Looking around at the world today, I saw that magnified. People were focused on buying all sorts of gifts to show the love that should be shown every day. Instead of the celebration of His birth, there was a celebration of the sales and people being able to add to their already vast collection of goods. To that mentality, I said “Bah, Humbug”! Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE gifts. I love opening up presents and seeing what’s inside. However, I found that this year I was more focused on what I could give to others. I sought out to spread love and cheer, and to give in whatever way I could to bring smiles to others. In that endeavor, I found a level of peace and joy in this Christmas than I have ever felt before. I did not have to have a big family Christmas, nor did there have to be a plethora of gifts under my tree. What I wanted most was to love and be loved, and to celebrate the reason that we have a Christmas. I gave to others out of a genuine desire for them to know that they are loved, and in that was my reward. I discovered, again, the blessing of Christmas. So, maybe you did not receive all that you desired. Maybe it seems no one cared enough to pay you attention. Maybe it seemed like this season has been a combination of hurt, sorrow, and being overlooked. Just know that if no one else sees you or cares for you, I do. Yes, that can seem crazy if we have never met, but I have enough love in my heart to send some to you wherever you are. Remember to spend time loving and giving, and what you receive in return from all of that will matter more than any physical gift that only fulfills a temporary want. So, a very Merry Christmas to you and yours, and so much love to you from one human to another. Blessings.
Today, many people are celebrating Christmas. If you ask any one person, you may get a different response to “why do you celebrate Christmas?” If you ask me I will tell you it is because I believe that Jesus Christ was born, and I celebrate His birth on this day. Others may celebrate because it is a time to gather with family and loved ones to rejoice in the closeout of another year. Still others may not celebrate the day itself, but acknowledge that there is something special about this time of year. Whatever the case, somehow, we all end up giving gifts to others, both tangible and intangible. This year, as Christmas quickly approached, I began to think of all of the gifts I wanted to get for others. My heart overflowed with ideas and plans to make others smile, and I began to get caught up in all that I could do for everyone else. I have always been a giver. It has always brought me immense pleasure to see others happy. Why should Christmas be any different? Yes, gift giving is something traditions brought on, but something I enjoy doing all the same. Somewhere along the way, I realized that with all that I planned to do for others, I had not once stopped to think about what I would do for myself. When I did think about it, I considered going on a mini shopping spree, but I realized that the satisfaction from that would only last for a moment. I considered taking myself to get a facial or manicure, which I may still do, but that would not be enough. Then I focused on the more intangible things I needed. Hope. Peace. Joy. Forgiveness. Newness. Words easily spoken, but hard to realize. Three years ago, not long before Christmas, I did something that robbed me of all of those things. I lost hope that things would ever get better for me. I was tormented by what occurred. I lost my smile, replaced by a mask resembling what once was. I forgot how to forgive myself, and I thought I could never be new again. Since then, I have pretended, somewhat convincingly, that all of that I have gained back. In some ways I had gotten some of that back, but not to the full extent. When thinking about what I wanted for Christmas, I realized that “some” was not enough, and I wanted everything back that I originally lost, plus more. I finally understood that to get everything back, I first had to forgive myself for what was. To still live in what was, but try to move forward into what is to be, creates a battle within that only continues to tear apart. So, first step, forgiveness. From there everything else is a choice. I can choose to hope again, and know that what does not kill me really does make me stronger. Things can and will change. I can have peace knowing that what is done is over, and my heart is in a new place. I can keep that peace by ensuring that I never go back to that place again. I can have joy in the midst of knowing that I am forgiven, and knowing that I can start life from wherever I choose. The first thing is to make that choice. All of this is a gift that only I could give myself. Tangible things are nice. Give to others. Make someone else happy. Always remember that the best gift sometimes is a gift that only you can give to yourself. Live again.