Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where Are You Christmas?

angel bokeh

Where are you Christmas ? Why can't I find you? Why have you gone away?
Where is the laughter you used to bring me? Why can't I hear music play?
My world is changing, I'm rearranging. Does that mean Christmas changes too?

As sung by Faith Hill in “The Grinch”

Every year it gets harder for me to find that Christmas spirit.

I have always loved Christmas – the extended family gathering, the huge meal, that feeling of “niceness” that comes over everyone, the spirit of giving. I used to be so excited about getting out and shopping for that perfect gift for everyone on my list. Then I would put on holiday music and wrap presents for hours.

When my children were small, I loved to see them excited about Santa, the tree, the lights, and the giving of gifts. Making the holiday special for them was important to me but it was also fun. As they grew up, watching them do their own shopping and seeing their dedication to our Christmas traditions was rewarding.

After my husband passed away, I decided that the kids did not need another pair of jeans or another CD but they did need memories. So every year, either right before or after Christmas, we took a trip together. We went to Disney, on a cruise to Cozumel, took an amazing trip to New York City, and one year we rented a cabin in Gatlinburg and invited friends. And we made some great memories. But then they got older and their job schedules made it more difficult to coordinate a family trip around the holidays.

Over the years, I have grown to strongly dislike shopping, not just during the holidays but year-round. Our families are blessed with good jobs and homes and very little need so buying gifts became more and more difficult because when we want something, we get it ourselves. I feel so grateful that we are all so lucky and feel like it’s such a waste of money to buy something that it not really wanted or needed, just for the purpose of giving a gift. One side of my family got smart this year and we are only doing gifts for the kids while the adults will give the gift of time spent with each other, just enjoying the holiday together.

That old feeling is starting to return as I am reminded of what this holiday is about. Last night at my ABWA Christmas Party, one of our members shared a story from her church. Each church member was given an envelope with cash in it, in amounts ranging from $1 to $20. They were instructed to use their money for the benefit of others. They were not allowed to keep the money or to give it back to the church or to any of the church’s charitable events. My friend and her husband received $1 each. She is a teacher so she and her husband put their money together and she told the children in her classes that any money they brought in for the Empty Stocking Fund, she and her husband would match, starting with their $2. Within 3 days, the children had brought in over $60. Her point was that it didn’t matter how much you had or how much you started with, if you put it with others, you can do something good for someone else. After she told her story, most of the women in the room dried their eyes and one by one, quietly went to her and gave her the cash they had on them. Including me. It felt like Christmas again.

So, as the song says, “my world is changing, I’m rearranging”. So maybe that’s my answer. I need to rearrange what my idea of Christmas is and turn it into something that helps others. Giving to those that do not have what our family has, who are truly in need, that might be just where my Christmas spirit will be found.

At least until I have grandchildren!


Ruth D~ said...

The spirit is found in giving from the heart... the love. Nice story. Merry Christmas!

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igsie said...

My sister's church did a similar "project" with money. Each person was given $20 and asked to invest it in some way so they could give back to others more than the money invested. It was very interesting to see people's creativity, individualism, and spirit of giving. For instance, one woman bought ingredients to bake pies with her $20, and then sold the pies, making much more money to give back.

janes said...
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