We race through stores with our gazes cast downward, our focus on the moment on hand. Frantically we pace through aisles, questioning the options before us in our attempt to select the perfect gift. We become distracted in our searches, our tempers short, our hearts hardened by long hours of shopping, our frustration mounting.
At a time in which we should celebrating, grateful for another year that we were able to overcome the circumstances that have defined the previous ten months, we allow ourselves to become engrossed in the urge to shop, to purchase the latest item.
We forget the reason for the season.
The spirit of the holidays should be focused upon the loved ones we have the ability to spend time with. For so many, this is not a possibility, as loved ones are either no longer living, or they are unable to be physically with them. For these individuals, another moment with their loved one, a final holiday to be shared, would be treasured and appreciated.
Friends, we need to appreciate and treasure our loved ones, our lives, not just at this time of year, but every day.
We need to remind ourselves that life isn’t about presents. It’s about presence. Being fully engaged in our lives, our relationships, and in our time, is what is honestly the most rewarding. Certainly packages under the tree are delightful to see, and enjoyable to open, but after the momentary joy subsides and the presents are stored away, if our hearts are still unhappy, have we really received any gift?
For me, this, the first Christmas after such a tumultuous year, will be a difficult one. I have allowed for my heart to be hardened, my joy to be stripped by the negativity of life events outside of my control. I know that many others are in the same position as I, their happiness stolen, jaded and uncertain, carrying through the motions of the holidays, including shopping and the stress that often comes with it.
I ask of you, on this, the eve before Christmas, to recall your reason for the season. Whether it be your family, your spirit and strength in the face of adversity, or joy at the promise of a new year rapidly approaching, a chance to start over, I encourage you to lay your focus there. Don’t allow yourself to become so focused on the material that you forget to appreciate the very gifts before you.
Merry Christmas Eve.