Which is what I love about Christmastime, even though I don't celebrate the holiday. But I do love the spirit of the season. (Okay not the Black Friday mobs or the traffic that seems to grow at holiday time or the inability to find a parking space anywhere.) I love the spirit of giving that blooms this time of year, the stopping for a moment to remember that there are foster kids with no Santa to deliver gifts for them or shelters that need help serving food to the homeless or that a donation of a warm jacket or old sleeping bag could save a life.
Last year at Christmastime I found out that a dear friend was dying of cancer. Of course it made me desperately sad, and it also made me feel grateful for my family's health and well-being. But somehow that feeling of gratitude felt more academic. It wasn't until illness hit my family directly that I truly understood the depth of gratitude for the "normal", the healthy, the everything we take for granted. I generally consider myself to be a pretty empathic person. So why did it take so much for me to get to this place of understanding? And will I be able to maintain my sense of gratitude when (hopefully) we're all relatively healthy?
It's a question I don't have an answer to. I suppose only time will tell. Maybe the gratitude is one of those gifts that comes from the difficult times, one of those silver linings. Or maybe I can share it so you don't have to live through it: Take time out to be grateful for what you see as the problems in your life and ask yourself if maybe you're lucky to have them. It doesn't take away the angst that comes with having too much to do or feeling overwhelmed or wishing for more. But for me at least, it does bring a kind of peace alongside it.
Wishing you peace, love, joy and gratitude this holiday season