Give the Gift of Yourself this Holiday

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Yesterday I made cookies with my grandson Drew and my granddaughter Hampton. Now big enough to do most of the work, they measured and stirred, rolled and shaped, baked and frosted. Despite the flour and sprinkles that ended up from floor to ceiling, we had a great time. The cookies were delicious!

Drew’s older brother Nick joined us afterwards for pasta dinner and some Papa and Nana time. I was once again amazed at how smart and talkative they were; the discussions interesting and loads of fun. As I looked around the table I smiled with delight. I realized I was truly blessed and made a point of storing the moment in my memory as one of the best holidays ever.

It hasn’t always been the case; not every holiday has been so perfect. There have been times when it was all I could do to decorate the tree, not able to access the Christmas spirit no matter how hard I tried. That first Christmas after my daughter Kristi died was surely one of the most difficult and it would have been easy to curl up in a ball and pull the covers over my head.

How does one get past the sadness, the emptiness, the feeling alone and abandoned? GIVE. Give to someone else. Give of your time, your talents, your ear, your heart. For when you brighten the day for another person you brighten the darkness in yourself. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own challenges, issues and misery, rehearsing over and over in our mind everything that is wrong in our life. Why we humans are so good at focusing on that which makes us feel bad is a mystery. For when we focus on helping someone else, on bringing joy to another person’s life, we begin to feel better. The world looks brighter and our problems seem to recede.

give of yourself

My husband fills the hole in his heart by coordinating the Kristi’s Wish campaign in partnership with Schrader’s Country Stores and organizing a giving tree at a local restaurant. Together they raised thousands of dollars to support four local organizations and collected 100 gifts for children in need. He smiles now during the holidays, knowing he has made a difference in the lives of others.

I do it by spending quality time with my grandchildren baking cookies, going for a walk or attending a Christmas concert, things that perhaps I didn’t do often enough with my own children when they were young. It brings back long forgotten memories of when I did make the time to bake cookies with Kristi and her sister Jen, brothers Jason and Adam.

Also by baking loaf after loaf of cranberry bread to share with friends and family and the neighbors I rarely see. I am always greeted with joy by those I share my bread with, especially the crew at the local watering hole my husband and I hang out at. I like to think they wait for my yearly gift of bread.

So find a way to give this Christmas, to share your beautiful spark with someone who might need a little light in their life. It just feels good.

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully everyone is blessed.” ~ Maya Angelou

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas filled with joy and light.


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