Beyond the Season of Giving

The holiday season is here. The bells are jingling, carols are playing and gifts are being bought in a frenzy. No matter where we go or what we do, it’s in our face. For many this is a happy time of year, filled with laughter, family, friends and traditions passed through generations. Then there is the rest of us.

You see I love the holidays now that I have children to create traditions with; to create the magic that I always envisioned this time of year to be. I am one of those “crazy” moms who will use cross-country skis to make “sleigh tracks” and jingle bells outside my children’s doors. I want to give them magic. More than anything, I want to give them roots. I want to give them a childhood that they will look back on with a smile. One that they will take bits of and pass down to their own children.

I’m what you might consider an adult orphan. I have no real family to speak of, with the beautiful exception of some very special people who came into my life and stayed. But they aren’t the family I grew up with; ones I can reminisce with about childhood antics or loved ones passed on. No matter how special they are to me, there is still a sense of loneliness that runs deep to my bones as I watch and hear the stories of generations gathering to the table or around the tree.  I have never known what it meant to truly be a part of that; not just an invited outsider. That is not a level of loneliness I ever want my children to feel and one I try to assuage in others who ache as I do.

This time of year brings out the benevolence in our society. We think about those who are homeless, jobless, and hungry more at this time of year than we do any other. We worry about children who will not have a gift to open from Santa on Christmas morning, families that don’t have enough food, that homeless man we see riding his bike all day, every day so that he can stay warm.

Sadly, a week later that same child we insisted deserves a toy for Christmas is busy trying to stay warm because his mom didn’t have money for fuel oil and no one will help her. The family we bought a ham for ate every morsel in moderation to make it last is once again hungry and praying that the food shelf isn’t out of stock. The homeless man? He died of hypothermia after collapsing in exhaustion in his make shift tent. WHY? Can we really call ourselves kind, giving, generous people if the only time we are inspired to give is when we are relentlessly reminded of our excesses? Let’s face it, Christmas is a time of abundance for many. Is it only when our greed is so obvious that we can see what is happening around us?

The quotes about being thankful have been flowing through social media but how many of us are TRULY thankful? How many of us look at our lives and say, “Thank you”- and mean it? Or are we too busy tallying up our accomplishments and possessions? Do we think that we don’t have to be thankful because we “earned it?”

Someone gave us a job so we COULD earn it. Someone taught us so we would be worth hiring. Someone, and if you’re like me, a lot of someone’s, came into your life and believed in you enough that you believed in you too. Nothing we have is solely our own. NOTHING.

This post isn’t about trying to make you feel badly or to write a check to some local charity, it’s about making us all, myself included, THINK. It’s about seeing the panoramic view of our lives and finding what truly matters. It’s about getting honest with and about ourselves and being true to the person that so many of us want to be, but get caught up in the race between working and buying that we get off the track we should be on. The only race we really need to win is the one that helps our world become a better place, one life, one heart, one smile at a time.