This time of year always gets me thinking - mostly about my many blessings. This is the time of year that we can easily get wrapped up in the "have to's". What I have to remember is that I "can do" these things and should be joyful in their doing. I have a friend that used to say that he prayed everyday and thanked his maker for all he had - and at the same time, all he didn't have.
I think we all know someone that will go "without" in some way this season. Without a job. Without a home. Without a spouse, Without a child. Without a meal. Without hope.
I won't go through the holidays without a job or a paycheck - yet I will fuss about how many hours I had to work. I will sit comfortably in a big cozy chair after a hot bath with my tea and sigh because my family room doesn't look like the picture in the Metropolitan Living magazine. I will probably fuss with my wife over some trivial issue - never thinking for a moment how many years she has stood by my side in thick and thin and how lucky I am to have her in my life. My kids will all be laughing and carrying on enjoying being home together as a family - and I will be grumpy not remembering that all too soon they will no longer be home to raise such a commotion. Over the holidays the only meal I will miss will be the one I choose not to eat - because I have already overindulged. And as that sparkling ball drops in NYC's Times Square I will share a kiss knowing that next year will be filled with even more promise, opportunities and learning. I still believe and have so much hope for the future.
There are many religious traditions and one that I especially like is on Christmas Eve. The lights in the church are turned out and the sanctuary is very dark - all except for the light of a single candle. Words are spoken about the "light" of the world. Maybe it is the Christ that the pastor speaks of? Maybe it is the Goodwill that we have the ability to share with others? We each have an unlit candle in our hands. What I know is there is a choice to be made. Share your light - or let it go out. As the flame from that single candle is passed from wick to wick, the brightness continues to grow until the whole room is bathed in a beautiful golden light. Faces young and old are illuminated in the light of shared compassion, generosity, friendship, love and hope. It is a night that I thank God for what I have and of the talents and blessings I have the ability to share.
For this holiday season - reach out and share a friendly handshake, a heartfelt hug, a bag of groceries, a "Toy for Tots' donation, a prayer for those in service of our country and their families. Give a smile to a stranger and forgiveness to someone that has wronged you. Be truly thankful for what you have and don't have. Surprise someone with a random act of Kindness and expect nothing in return.