Jazzed to give again this Christmas? How does that make you feel? Giving?
The first thing one tends to go to is the stress, the pressure, right? Of what to give loved ones. Let’s face it, some people are just darn good gift-givers, picking out just the right thing time and again, wrapping it so beautifully and magically. Me? Not so much.
For some weird reason, I could never pick out anything for my mom and she’d give it right back. “Here, Rita,” she’d say, “you can use this more than me.” A skirt in her size? A sweater in her size? Oh boy. But she loved Christmas, and her eyes would light up, glittery with excitement, when she’d present her well-thought-out-and-beautifully-wrapped gift to me. And Mom did know me best, because I always loved what she gave me.
Whether you’re a darn good gift-giver or just so-so, tis the season for giving – more than just gifts – so embrace it. Take a moment to think about how it feels to give something special to someone. Anyone. Even in anonymity, giving something good of oneself has the power to lighten one’s load, doesn’t it?
Did you happen to see that viral Facebook post going around a few years back at Christmastime? About the boy who was old enough to question the existence of Santa? The father made a date with him for “coffee” at the local coffee shop, made a comment about how he’d probably noticed that most of the Santas he saw in the malls, etc were people just dressed up like him. “Some of your friends may have even told you there is no Santa,” he said. “A lot of children think that, because they aren’t ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE.”
The boy was pretty excited to have graduated to being a Santa. His first recipient? He chose a mean neighbour he and his friends called The Witch because of how cross she’d get if they came near her house or their balls accidentally ended up on her property. He noticed that when she came out for her paper in the morning she had no slippers. Father and son purchased slippers, wrapped them, marked them “from Santa” and left them on her doorstep. The boy did get to see her retrieving her paper a few days later with those slippers on. It inspired him in later years to continue giving, doing things like refurbishing a bike for a needy child and mentoring his younger brother when he was ready to BE a Santa.
I recently watched the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2019. They all inspired me, but wow, some of the Young Wonders are truly incredible. There’s a 12-year-old boy in Chicago, Jahkil Jackson. Deeply disturbed by the homeless in his city, he started distributing food to them with his aunt and cousins when he was five. When he was eight he started Project I Am. His Twitter feed says “Offering a little help one bag at a time for those in need.” It’s called a “Blessing Bag” and contains things like a little first aid kit, Chapstick, granola bar, tooth brush and tooth paste. Kind of like a grown up Christmas stocking. Watching this young boy personally hand out these “Blessing Bags” to people down and out on the city streets brought tears to my eyes. Will it fix their plight? Not likely. But it sure will ease their day, huh? Knowing someone cares, knowing some of their immediate needs are met.
Already, at six, my granddaughter Naomi’s empathy gene seems evident. Unprompted by her teacher about gift-giving, here’s her letter to Santa, written at school:
This Christmas I would like to spread kindness.
I will help donate food to peope (sic) in need.
I will also smile at people around me.
*“smile at people around me”
Nice advice Naomi! For all of us. While we tend to think of giving in monetary terms, it need not be. Right now, with climate change and Greta Thunberg prominently in the news, best to keep monetary purchases to a minimum anyway.
So, turning thoughts from what you want or need to what others might want or need not only lightens your load and makes you empathetic, it taps you into abundance. Remember the “negativity bias” we talked about in Catch A Wave? Focusing on negativity, while natural, just brings more of the same. And if there’s good stuff kicking around? You’ll likely miss it. Spiritual experts say that shifting your focus – giving away what you want, or are lacking – will bring that abundance to you.
Like this song my grandson Beau sang at his pre-school Christmas concert: “Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.”
A final word from my granddaughter Simone, seven. A friend told her, “Christmas is about getting presents.” And Simone said, “No. Christmas is about spending time with your family.”
Enjoy spending time with your family this Christmas. Don’t stress if he doesn’t care for the tie and you don’t really care for the sweater because it doesn’t matter. Give oodles and oodles of love away . . . and just keep right on giving it all the way through 2020.