Monthly Archives: December 2016

christmas 

This Christmas was the best one I have had in as many years as I can recall. It wasn’t the gifts under the tree. In fact, it was the absence of them this year that made me happier than before. Perhaps it is a change in perspective. Perhaps it was a change in me. I did not need gifts under the tree to make Christmas special. 

I needed my family and I needed my friends. I needed to do things for others and for strangers and for those in less fortunate situations than I found myself in. 

I kept the gifts lean this year, yet my youngest thought it was the best Christmas ever. This tells me that it isn’t the money spent that makes Christmas special for them either. It’s the love that is shared. 

Having said that, there was a surprise for me this year. One of my very best friends took it upon himself to ensure my boys had gifts under the tree for their mom. He did it without me knowing and it was particularly touching. 

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value human interaction

I have been reminded lately of the importance of human interaction.  In this, I mean how important it is to have contact with others.  Physical contact, verbal communication, or whatever it is that satisfies that personal need.  We all need to be valued in some way.  To be appreciated.  To be wanted.

To be loved.

Remember those who play a role in your life, no matter how small.  Thank the person holding the door open for you as you enter the mall to buy those last minute gifts.  Smile at the lonely woman sitting and looking out her window as you walk to collect your children from school.  Give a compliment to a stranger for no other reason but to spread a little joy to the life of another.

In this world of smart phone abuse, I watch as people walk down the street and hallways with their faces buried in screens.  People no longer notice those around them.  I feel the isolation of technology affecting society, and I urge everyone to be part of the resistance here.  Let’s not forget our humanity and our human interaction.

the holiday spirit

I have noticed that in removing the pressure of gifting, I have found space for enjoyment of the holiday season.  I have discovered there is time for social gatherings and enjoying the company of my loved ones.  I have removed the pressures of creating the perfect holiday setting with the decorations and lights and the tens of thousands of calories in baking that I certainly do not need to eat, but would if left to my own devices.

I have found joy in spontaneity and planned outings.  I have frozen my toes just to spend two hours with a small circle of friends as we enjoyed the subzero temperature outdoor concert on the CP Holiday Train.  We have those memories to share.  Of finding a new restaurant and a wonderful new ginger cider.  Of bonding and sharing.  Of quality time without expectations.

I have five holiday parties planned just by my colleagues and employers…departmental, multidepartmental, corporate, family, and our own small staff.  These things do not pressure me this year because all those other stressful components of the holidays are now gone.

Don’t misunderstand me, please.  I do have some decorations up and I adore them.  I have bought presents for my children.  I have asked for them to please stop worrying that they cannot find a way to buy me a gift.  I asked for them to create with what they have if they want to give, but that they themselves are the greatest gift I have or could ever get.  I will bake cookies, but just two kinds and it will be a labor of love to be enjoyed with my children, not one where I scoot them out of the kitchen because they are underfoot.

The holidays are about people and joining together.  Enjoying each other and giving back to the community and those in need.  It’s supposed to last year long, but we all know that people tend to give more at the holidays than they do year round.

This year, I am truly enjoying the holiday season more than I have since being a young child and having all my extended family nearby for that wonderful multitable, multifamily Christmas dinner.  That is what remains in my memories.  It isn’t the gifts I was given.  It was the people that I was with.

the gift of joy

The old adage “‘Tis better to give than to receive” has been spoken so many times.  I feel like sometimes it has no meaning left anymore.  In this world of materialism, of keeping up with the Jones’ despite what it does to our bank accounts or stress levels knowing the financial strain it places on us just to keep up.  The world we live in wants more and more.  Gluttony abounds.

For so many years, I would go and buy presents for myself (including when I was still married because my ex couldn’t make any effort to do anything for anyone).  I would wrap them and place them under the tree.  On Christmas morning, as I unwrapped these gifts that were labelled as being from everyone else, I would pretend to be surprised by the gifts.

I am no longer doing this.  This year, I have been forthcoming with my children and told them that I do not need gifts under the tree.  You see, my sons, knowing that there is not a significant other in my life and knowing all my family lives far away, they realize that there is nobody who can take them out to buy me Christmas presents.  Their father? I think he would sooner see me dead than help them buy gifts and they know it all too well.  They don’t dare ask.

So this year, I have invited my boys to join me in choosing a senior from the community who is in need of items.  We went down to our local London Drugs and chose a card together off the tree.  They wanted to choose a man, so we did.  Many asked for essential items such as deodorant or razor blades.  Our senior did also, but he also needs a blanket and would like some socks and such.  We have gathered up the items requested, and added in some chocolates, tea, and handmade men’s slippers.  I am currently making a new hat for the gift also.  We will together write our holiday wishes into a Christmas card, and when finished, we will take the package back to the store where they will give the gift to our senior.

The other gift I am giving myself is the gift to another single parent.  Being in the position I am, I know how sometimes the holidays can be difficult without extended family nearby, and to do all the Christmas stuff yourself as a single parent.  I am gifting a photoshoot to a single parent (maybe two, dependent on time), who has no family nearby.  The photoshoot is for the parent and their family.  No strings attached.  No contracts.  No expectations for ordering images.  The photoshoot is going to be done because it feels good to give something to someone else without any expectations.  The parent will receive all the photos edited on a memory stick and they can be printed or not, shared or not.  Totally up to them.

This, to me, is what the holiday spirit is about.  It isn’t about how much you get.  It isn’t about how much you spend.  It isn’t about outdoing the other parent in a bidding war over the children’s love.  It’s about integrity, compassion, and caring for those in our lives and our communities.  Christmas is about loving one another regardless of race, creed, personal preference.  Christmas is about harmony.  Christmas is about joy.

I believe this will be my best Christmas yet.