The Gift Behind the Giving

‘Tis the season. I can remember a time when I was excited about the holiday season. It was a time when people were nice to each other. Neighbors baked cookies and decorating was a joy rather than a chore. There was a magic to this season, and people really tried to be more kind and compassionate toward each other.

My first memory of this starting to change came with the absurd Cabbage Patch Kid craze. All of a sudden this season of warmth and light seemed to turn on its heel. All of a sudden it became more acceptable to rush and push, stress out and fake a smile at the multitude of parties, than it was to slow down and enjoy family and friends. More and more the holiday season has become a time of dread rather than a season that I look forward to.

This year I found myself wishing I could hibernate for the month of December. I don’t like this change in myself. Granted I have a lot of company at the “I’m so over December” party. But the fact is that even though we all get invited, doesn’t mean we have to acept the invitation to delve into bitterness and get shut down. The Holiday season could become a season of light again. So I decided to do something about this.

As simple as this sounds, I am going to give from my heart and only from my heart. For some people it will come in the form of a smile. For others it may be a donation of time or money. My close friends might even get a package that is all wrapped up. But I have decided that the form of the gift will not matter this year. The real gift will be the compassion in it.

So for the next month, I am going to make my spiritual practice one of giving. I am going to try to view each person I meet as an opportunity to practice this heartfelt generosity, and I am going to try to see every person I encounter as an opportunity to smile.

This is a profound time when the miracle of Chunaka, the promise of new light at the Solstice, the birth of wisdom and compassion at Christmas, and Freedom of Kwanza all remind us that we are the miracle, the light, the gift and the symbol of freedom.

Mother Teresa once said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” That is the gift behind the giving.


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