With Christmas just around the corner, a question I’m often asked is, “Are you ready for the holidays?". Listening to others’ plans, I hear the following questions beneath this question. “Are the Christmas lights and stockings up? Is the tree dressed in its finest, proud of the presents below it? Will there be gingerbread baking in the oven, along with a perfectly planned holiday meal? Does the family look happy in the Christmas card photos? If not, should you take another picture?”
Though I appreciate the genuine warmth and curiosity behind this question, I can’t help but wonder. How long did you stand in line at the mall, how much did you spend online to get the last version of the latest (fill in the blank) so he or she can unwrap happiness? The tree sure looks pretty, but did you ever stop to appreciate its natural beauty out in the wild? Does it bother you that it’s dying, that it cannot live off artificial lights, that it might miss the exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen? Will you taste and enjoy the food you are about to prepare? Or is it all for show? What if someone isn’t smiling in the picture, the lighting is off, or you look older than you should? Is it still ok to send the cards out?
Reflecting on generosity, the question for me isn’t how much, but why. It’s not how much money I spend, the time it takes to cook, bake, or make something, but why I am giving it. What is my intention? Can the one receiving the gift feel my care? How well do I know them? What do I want them to know about me?
Tomorrow may never come. One day you and I will both die. This is for certain. It is only a matter of when. We don’t need a terminal diagnosis to wake up to this truth.
I want to know how it is for you. I want you to know how it is for me. This presence is the greatest present I could ever give or receive.
(This post may impact you negatively. Please know that I am not against holiday traditions, but questioning their authenticity. The invitation is to look beneath the surface of appearances and connect from the heart.
May you and yours celebrate Christmas joyfully. May you be happy, warm, and safe. May you experience a deep and profound sense of peace.)