The past two weeks have been incredibly busy, as I am sure they have been for most of us. Christmas is such a blessed time of year, and one I have always loved, but it can also be a stressful time of year with marketing geniuses doing their best to manipulate the masses into buying whatever they may be hocking. For those who are already under financial constraints the pressure can be intolerable, and the emphasis on family depressing for those of us who do not have the support of a loved one(s). So, Christmas can bring a mixed bag of joy and sadness – joy for some, utter dejection for others.
Two weeks ago, I had to call an ambulance to take my husband to hospital and within a few days I was visited by the flu which set me on my butt and added to the stress. In the midst of all this was the pressure I was putting on myself to get ready for Christmas, forgetting we always have choices…. maybe they’re not great choices, but they are choices.
Not long ago a friend gifted me with tickets to Tom Jackson’s Huron Christmas Carol. We were supposed to go together but my friend had to opt out. So, she gave me the tickets so my husband and I could go together. As I sat in the theatre with my husband listening to the beautiful music and laughing at the anecdotes Tom was sharing, I could feel the tension ease off my neck and shoulders.
The entertainer was talking about joy; about gifts; about what we can do for one another – sometimes something as simple as a smile can be a much-needed gift for another. What ‘finest gift’ can we bring?
This was cause for a lot of reflection on my part. We don’t have much money. My husband has been on a disability pension for many years and my job is only part-time,leaving little cash to spare. Giving gifts is a great pleasure for me and for along time I found it quite depressing that I could not give the things I would have liked to give. I do what I can.
And then I met people who are homeless. One man gifted me with his sense of humour that made me laugh so hard that tears started to roll down my cheeks. Another humbled me with a gift of candy – a quiet, gentle person – he reminded me of the innate goodness of humanity and the dignity inherent within all of us that should be respected and celebrated. His gift was pure joy as it came from the heart. Another bakes banana bread and brings it to the library to give to the people who work there. His gift was recognition of the people who go over and beyond what it required of them in their paid positions. His gift was gratitude. A so-called ‘mentally disabled’ woman helped me remember the joy of presence as she regaled me with stories of her life and doings. So, in the end it isn’t the physical gift that matters is it? It is the gifts of compassion, empathy, and connection that are the true gifts.
We all have joy to give, if we choose to do so. We are all gifted in some way –talented in some way. We are all blessed with something special and unique to ourselves. May this Christmas help us identify and share our blessings with others.