Friday, December 6, 2013

'Tis the Season

The holidays mean so many different things to different people. To some it’s a season of joy, filled with family, friends, gifts and shared memories; while to others it’s a time of sorrow or loneliness, as they dwell on what or whom they’re missing from their lives. Stress unfortunately is part and parcel of holidays even for the cheeriest of us; from out of town guests and holiday parties, to shopping for the perfect gift, to paying for that perfect gift.

In all of the hoopla of shopping, baking and candlestick making (sorry it’s corny, but it’s the only thing that rhymed which came to mind), we sometimes forget the true meaning of the season; we forget that the holidays aren’t (or shouldn’t be) about the best gift or the most gifts, it shouldn’t be about the parties or decorations, it’s really not about receiving at all. The holidays are about giving, not an X-Box or diamond ring, it’s about giving of yourself. It’s about extending a helping hand to someone in need or a hand of friendship to someone who’s lonely. Giving is the best gift we give the world and ourselves, for in giving we receive.

Take the time to give in small ways or large; drop off a toy at a Toys for Tots bin, drop a few dollars in a salvation army collection bucket, or drop off some cans at your church or synagogue or whatever house of worship you visit; and if you don’t visit any, then drop it off at a local shelter. There is no act of kindness too small to make a difference. A simple Barbie could be the only gift a child eagerly opens on Christmas morning. A can of soup might warm someone on a cold winter’s night. If funds are low, then better yet, give of yourself and your time. There is a proverb that says “If you have much, give of your wealth; If you have little, give of your heart.”

Volunteer your time at a soup kitchen, nursing home or hospital; or even an animal shelter, they need TLC too. I volunteer every Thursday at my town’s food pantry and once every couple of months (or sometimes more often) at Kid’s Kloset, a great organization which helps kids. Whether it becomes a part of your weekly schedule or something you do around the holidays, it’s not the amount of time or frequency that matters, it’s that you took the time to care, to think outside of your own stresses and worries (because we all have them), to put someone else first. You know what, you don’t even have to travel far to give, it could be an act of kindness for a friend or co-worker or even a neighbor. Need in all forms is all around us, we don’t have to look far, we just have to open our eyes and hearts to see it.

This holiday season don’t sweat the small stuff; it’s okay if the ham is a little dry, there’s a little dust on the furniture, or Aunt Sue gets the wrong shade of pink sweater. Remember to count your blessings and in your gratitude you’ll find peace; that dry ham means there's food on your table, that dusty furniture means there's a roof over your head, and Aunt Sue's grumbles means you have family gathered around you. It's in giving to others we give thanks for our own blessings.

Give hope, give peace, give love; each a priceless gift free of cost, and remember:
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill