I love Christmas. I have ever since I was a little child. The lights remind me of heaven. In the songs I feel hearts reaching out to share good cheer. In the food I find an excuse to nourish others. I love to give presents, not because material objects have meaning, but because the love behind them does, and I know when someone enjoys a gift, they are reminded that they are deeply loved.
It is Divine love that wants to pour through each of us into this world, and Divine love that is allowed to shine more clearly this time of year.
That said, I know there are many who don’t feel special about the holidays. It seems to hurt if you’ve lost someone, feel alone or unloved, are going through a hard time, or just don’t share the same enthusiasm for the glitz and glitter. We are all unique, and the greater the love on the planet, the more we feel everything else.
I have spent Christmases alone. I felt sorry for myself, years ago, being so far from family, newly divorced and in an apartment that I decorated but not nearly as beautifully as the home I left. Most of my friends had abandoned me after my marriage ended and I left my job in engineering. I had only one friend left from my old life and a few new ones. I sat in meditation asking the angels how to make my Christmas beautiful and the thought came to invite my girlfriends over for a special Christmas eve dinner. It was simple, beautiful, and filled with love and laughter.
In choosing to love others I was choosing to love myself. In giving to others I received. In creating a special Christmas celebration for friends, one of whom admitted this was the Christmas she never had, I filled my heart and home with the spirit of the season. Twenty years later, these same friends and I still gather for a dinner over the holidays. We don’t see each other too often otherwise. Our diets have changed and we no longer go crazy with presents, but the love and support for one another’s journeys remain. The spirit of the season and our time together has carried our friendship throughout the years.
So if you find yourself among family and friends, count your blessings and send a shout of joy up the heavens. If you find yourself alone, reach out to others. Buy Christmas angel gifts, volunteer at a shelter for humans or animals, or sit in silent prayer for those not as well off. In giving we receive. In receiving we give. The cycle of love and life is most poignant in this season of light.
I often think of tonight’s humble beginnings – a young, scared, unwed couple in a cold manger, giving birth without pain pills, without nurses and doctors, or even a bed – without anything but a trust in the process of life itself and the light that lives within us all. Can you imagine?
Give thanks for the love in your life. If it isn’t coming from others, give thanks for the love in your own heart, for we are never ever without the light in the darkness and the love that is birthed within us with each breath.
Here are just a few thoughts to make the season special…
1. Give the gift of sharing your heart with someone
Whether your share your love deeply with a family member, spouse, child, client, or total stranger, open your heart a tiny bit more and share the love within it. Say what you are normally afraid to say. Tell someone how much you admire them. Compliment a stranger. Offer hope and your faith to someone who is having a hard time. Give the gift of your love.
2. Receive Graciously
Don’t just open your presents… open them with Presence. Hold them to your heart. Feel the love that the giver intended. Soak it up. Express your appreciation and, if you’re as old-fashioned as I am, send a thank you note or email. Gracious receiving is a gift to all.
3. If you don’t feel the spirit of the season, give yourself permission to create whatever type of holiday you wish
There are years of change, pain, grief, loss, when you just don’t feel like celebrating. It is part of the human condition. Give yourself permission to abandon tradition and do whatever you feel is most kind to yourself, whether it is escape on vacation somewhere special, or to sit at home and clean the closets, or hold the hand of one soon to leave this planet. You don’t have to follow tradition if that is not in your heart this year. Give yourself the gift of doing whatever you wish, traditional or not.
No matter what you celebrate, or whether you celebrate at all, I wish you a blessed, peaceful, and holy holiday. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah may the light within your heart shine brightly.
I love you all,