‘Tis the Season
For various reasons, I find Christmas to be a challenging holiday. I’m not a good shopper (year-round). In general, I’m not a good gift-giver or receiver. And, oddly, the season seems to lend itself to hurt feelings, leaving emotional wounds that last for years. I bear the holiday burden like a too-thick sweater, in an over-heated room full of people; I’m crowded and uncomfortable.
To complicate matters, year after year, work seems to spin out of control as we approach the end of the year. Project schedules invariably demand support. On top of that, my end-of-year activities include benefits planning and enrollment, budgets, and the dreaded annual performance reviews and pay planning. If any hint of pleasure crept into that last declaration, I need to improve my communication skills.
Every year I try to find new, creative ways of giving back to the community, to share the blessings that I’ve enjoyed throughout the year, giving to those who might least expect the kindness of a stranger. Have you ever handed someone you’ve never seen before a $20 gift card, with the simple message, “This is for you.” Simple. They are loved. They are appreciated. They matter. I challenge you to try it.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m giving stuffed socks to the homeless. I’ve given 2 sets away so far (8 to go!). In the first encounter, I forgot to ask his name. In the span of a red-light cycle, after graciously accepting my strange-looking gift, he received a grocery bag from another driver (more food!) and a bag of chips (probably from someone’s lunch) from a dump truck driver. The second recipient, Kyle, was a clearly mystified and more cautious, but hopefully, ultimately, just as grateful.
This morning, I read an excerpt from St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, claiming that God appeals to us most often through conversations, sermons, reading material, etc. Following that revelation, my devotional included a challenge to “Help the helpless”. Then, from God Calling, a message based on Matthew 5:44-45, urging us to obey the first law of giving – offering the gifts of our spirit: prayers, time, love and thoughtful consideration.
As a final Spiritual nudge, I read this secular guidance, on demonstrating an attitude of gratitude (via G5 Leadership). How simple, to offer words of appreciation. And, it’s free. So, I found myself writing cards, emails, and letters to a few people (and companies) that have consistently made me feel welcome, and inspired to me stretch myself intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.
If you happen to be on the receiving end of my gratitude, I hope I don’t creep you out. My feelings are sincere, but, like the Tin Man learning to move again after years of rusted rigidity, my expression of appreciation might be a little awkward. Forgive me. I ask nothing from you in return, other than your belief in my sincerity.
LORD, thank you modeling the love that you call us to fulfill, as a reflection of what you offer us. Help us learn to give and to receive. Amen.