The true spirit of the holidays: giving and gratefulness
If you had visited my house this year, you wouldn't know it's just a few days until Christmas. There is no tree, no decorations, no wrapped gifts. I love the holidays, and I'm fortunate that for most of my life, they have been a joyous occasion. I have, however, had a few Blue Christmases. This year is just one of those years. Suffice it to say, many of life's challenges came my way. I wish I could have posted on the blog this year about the gifts I hand made, the cookies, bread and dog treats I baked or eco-friendly gift wrap--but none of that happened for me this holiday season. This December brought tough times, and with it, an invaluable perspective on the true spriit of the holidays.
I'm very blessed to have amazing friends and family who look after me when the going gets tough. They spoil me with gifts, make time to listen and offer advice and make sure I get out and have fun. They do whatever they can to put a smile on my face. I know I can always count on them.
What I didn't expect this year was to have complete strangers share their Christmas cheer with me. After learning of my hardships this December, two people who do not know me simply wanted to show me that somebody cared. Giving all of the credit to "Santa," they sent me a care package. This large bag of goodies was meant to cheer me up, and it worked! Everything from cute soaps, toiletries, candies, earrings, gloves with my initial and many dog treats -- it's so touching that complete strangers would go to this trouble for me. I often blog about random acts of kindness, but being the recipient of such an enormous gesture was truly overwhelming.
It's hard not to get caught up in the giving aspect of the holidays. Gifts. Isn't that what we are all rushing around and shopping for? True giving comes from the heart, and it's not just about gifts for your close friends and family. If you are fortunate enough this year to be having a merry holiday, look around you to see where you could spread some cheer or support a charitable cause.
If you are having a more difficult holiday, look around you and be grateful for the many gifts you do have. Maybe that's your friends and family, or maybe it's something as simple as clean water to drink, a plate of food and a roof over your head. We all have something to be grateful for. And if you can escape the blues long enough, try to do at least one thing to cheer someone else up or help someone else in need.
I also want to mention that if you celebrate Christmas, you can be grateful for the gift of Jesus Christ. For Christians, that is a gift we all share and should make the center of our Christmas holiday.
For me, I am grateful to be spending the holidays with my dogs, especially one who beat cancer just two weeks ago by having her front left leg amputated. I'm grateful for her miraculous recovery and for the precious time I have left with her. I'm grateful to be surrounded by so many loving people who generously help me cope when life gets crazy. And this year, however tough it may be, I am grateful to be reminded about the true spirit of the holidays.
Happy holidays! May your heart be open to everyone around you, and may you truly appreciate all of life's blessings.