Around the sun for another Christmas season. Falling snow, slippery ice, crunchy salted sidewalks, window sills a glow, Scotch tape strips on the edge of the table, a hot cup of tea… and the lit stained glass of the church windows, the manger spotlighted, and choral hymns vibrating through the pews, and the anticipation of giving. This is my Christmas
For some, Christmas is religious and spiritual, but for almost all of us, it is a day of giving. The time we’ve spent crafting, or searching the internet for just the right size and color, or pushing our cart down each aisle to ensure we uncover every possible treasure. It’s not about the money, or the obligation; it’s about the opportunity to share what’s in our hearts; it’s an expression. It can also be an opportunity to reflect introspectively and observe our
Yes, we are giving by choice, but often we are awaiting something in return. No, I don’t mean a gift, I mean a reaction. Close you eyes and picture the gift you are most excited to give. Now I want you to picture the reaction you are desiring from the receiver. Likely you have one. Maybe we see them smiling, hugging us, or jumping up and down with glee. It’s wonderful to want those feelings of joy for another, but what if that’s not how they react? What if they simply say, “Thank you, that was very kind of you.” Do you suddenly feel disappointed? Not necessarily recognizing that the receiver’s reaction is coming from that person’s belief structure, and certainly not designed to disappoint us. This is our golden moment to recognize what our underlying motivations truly were. Perhaps you are saying, “It’s Christmas! That’s my motivation!” And that is partially true, but the reasons why you splurged above your budget, or insisted on viewing every booth at the craft show, or got up super early on Black Friday… that is what I’m referring to. The ‘why,’ and the beliefs behind
It’s fascinating to think that our choices of giving go way beyond the wish lists that we are often shopping off of. Yes, hopefully we are considering our budgets, but it’s what we are trying to say with our gifts that opens the door of curiosity. Giving to a person in genuine need- perhaps we find a way to stretch our budget?; perhaps we hold a deep rooted belief to serve others in need? Perhaps we’re proving to onlookers that we can or choose to? Perhaps we feel pain watching the receiver struggling? Perhaps out of pure love and compassion? Perhaps to embrace our religious teachings? Likely it’s a combination of beliefs that lead us to our final choices. And, it’s these beliefs that set our expectation of how it should be
What are we saying when we give anonymously to a charity box, or Toys-for-Tots-like organization? Clearly, we are never going to see the responses of that giving. Likely that feeling of goodness within us, that has us beaming with pride and peace, is simply the natural swelling of genuine love and compassion bursting forth as we anticipate bringing joy to another person’s life. That feeling is powerful. I believe it is this feeling that created all of those, “Keep Christmas in your heart all year round”
Allow me to also say that giving, for those Christians reading; it is also about the gift given to us on Christmas Day, and the anticipation of celebrating that birth can feel like a renewal of our religious traditions and beliefs. I find it quite beautiful. For those of other faiths, or non-religious readers, I suspect you, too, have powerful traditions that make Christmas Eve a special night of personal traditions.
As we sit with these ideas of expectation, I would simply encourage you to hold yourself with love. When you uncover that your heart sinks a moment due to an unmet expectation, don’t judge yourself, or the receiver, but rather, just notice. This noticing is the clues to what underlies our giving.
I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas celebration. May the wonder of the spirit fill your hearts with peace, compassion, and givin