on giving (after receiving so much)
"I’m thinking less about the wisemen who traveled afar toting riches and gifts, and I’m thinking more about the innkeeper. The one who quietly served those nearest, day in and day out, and who – in the end – stretched out a bit of creativity to make room for something altogether lovely."
The Christmas season has begun in earnest: Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas sales are in full swing. The amount of email I've received in the last 72 hours, informing me of how much time I have left to get this! very! best! deal! ever! on some item for which I really have any no use, is staggering. Still, it's the most wonderful time of the year, and I'm here for it. Give me all the crazy-decorated Christmas trees, the Santa's Slays*, the decked halls and boughs of holly. I love it all.
My favourite part of the year, bar none, is the gift-giving. Oh, how I love to give a gift. I love it way more than receiving it. On Christmas morning, what I most want is to leave my gifts sitting there, as I watch Marcus and Alex open their gifts. When I was a kid, my parents said they could never let me in on the secret of what they were getting each other, because I would inevitably blurt it out ("DADDY GOT YOU A NECKLACE!") just so I could be the one that made my mom happy. (Every time, I ended up feeling awful about ruining the surprise, but apparently not awful enough to stop doing it the following year.) And while this time of year I avoid shopping centres like the plague, I generally love shopping for gifts online. There's something about finding the perfect gift that says, "I love you and I care." It's so much fun.
But this year, I'm feeling the pressure to say more.
This year, after everything that has happened with Hurricane Harvey, I am overcome with gratitude. During Harvey, friends went above and beyond to make sure that my family was safe, and that my family felt loved. In the days after the storm, when we were too overwhelmed to think, friends thought for us, making sure that we made the calls we needed to make, that we remembered to eat (and provided us food when we forgot), and even opened their homes to us to provide us emergency shelter. And every one of them did this without a second thought.
Taking my friend Erin's analogy above to its logical conclusion, how do you express love and gratitude when so many of your friends are innkeepers?
Naturally, over the next month, I'll be looking for ways to do just that -- and I hope the gifts that I come up with will be quieter, and more creative, just like the innkeeper. Because if 2017 has taught me anything, it's that the people who I love and cherish are even better people than I'd ever imagined.
And this season, may you take a moment to discover that the same is true in your world. **
Soundtrack: All that I want by the Weepies
* The recipe for a Santa's Slay, a Marcus invention: take a champagne flute, add a small shot of golden rum, a small shot of asti spumante, and fill to the brim with cranberry juice. Fair warning: it's called a "slay" because it packs a punch.
** If you're looking for moments of discovery, don't forget to join me for Advent of Light -- a daily journaling course for most of December, with email meditations delivered directly to your inbox for 24 straight days. (Despite the "advent" in the name, there's no religion involved in these meditations -- in fact, today's post actually has more religion in it than any of the emails you'll receive.) It's a wonderful way to commit to some introspection during the busy holiday season. Registration ends tomorrow, so sign up today!