Posts Tagged ‘friends’

The presence of Christmas

December 25, 2010

WARNING: not exactly written by Santa (or Jesus) . . . could have been written by a slightly reformed Scrooge.

Of all the holidays, Christmas packs the most emotional punch. It also has a huge economic wallop as well. It seems to be lacking in the original celebration department yet booming in the expectation market.

Christmas is great when one has a loving family, friends, and an ample bank account with the caveat that one wants to celebrate (some people don’t like to celebrate . . . their choice). If one those goes missing, the presence of the other two can still make Christmas festive. As long as one is willing to celebrate, it is still great absent any two. Minus all three, though, you gotta have a pretty special person who can still celebrate . . . for the same reasons. In America, I know that there are non-Christians who do not celebrate Christmas but they are happy for the day off from work or the boon in their economic status if they are retailers. There are others, though, who are friendless, homeless, and penniless. They are wondering where (or if) they belong in the festival. Looking closely at their stories, you might discover a physical, mental, or emotional illness, a series of bad decisions, and an unfortunate string of events. Any one of them could be me.

Each season, I come to grips with the insanity of Christmas. I have spent Christmas all by myself and felt very at home doing so. I have spent Christmas caught up in the anxiety of giving far too much of my resources just to see them discounted as not being good enough for the recipients. I let go of the expectation any necessary miracles. I got tired of the drama. I have even been just fine without putting up a Christmas tree.

I am very selective about what parts of Christmas I celebrate. I celebrate the presence of my loved ones. I might honor the gift of their presence with the gift of my own. I might hand them something significant to both of us. Most of all, I am letting go of the requirement that others make this day special for me. The gifts I give are not really gifts if I expect others to respond in kind. At that point, the gift becomes a bribe.

I am into self-giving. I make sure I give to myself first, to others next. I am unexpectedly, other-worldly, shamelessly selfish in the gifts I give to me. The first gift I give to myself is that of gratitude. For everything I imagine that I lack, I name two gifts in my life that I am grateful for. Before too long, the abundance of what I have in my life overshadows and tumbles over any imagined lack.

I am not sure anyone would want to bank my gratitude and try to buy groceries with it, but I know this: ever since I started giving myself the gift of gratitude, there is not an empty space to be found in my cabinets and refrigerator.

I am full.

Happy Christmas.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

the presence of love

December 18, 2010

We need to love.

It is inherent in the very molecules that breathe life into our souls. In fact, love may be our souls. And when who or what we love disappears, we suffer as if a part of our soul took flight to follow them.

Who we love is easy to identify: our family, friends, and animal companions.

What can be anything from a cherished possession to a lifestyle to a dream.

I have observed even when a loved one is dying from an incurable disease, the people who love that person want him or her to hang around as long as possible. We don’t want them to be suffering or in pain, but we have a selfish love that is tagged for that person and that person only. When that person dies, where will our love go?

I have heard people who have lost their beloved spouses say that they would never love anyone like that again . . . that spouse who died was “it” for them and that is the end of their love life.

We love the feeling of loving others. It fills us up. It makes us melt.

When we lose our people, our item or the ability to live the way we want and let go of an unrealized dream, we miss that feeling of loving. We not only mourn for the loss, we mourn for ourselves. Mourning helps heal that raw and sudden wound. And our love floats around the empty space searching for a place to land. It is a specific love, reserved in a special place within us.

I notice my love when I am tending my plants . . . especially the one that I thought I had killed last winter (see the presence of plants).

I notice my love as I sit and play with my granddaughter.

I notice my love as I carefully construct a conversation with a family member in desperate times.

I notice the love I have for that Magic cat has nowhere to land. I miss loving her presence.

The lesson that this is teaching me is to love more . . . even though I may lose the presence of what I love, to be without the presence of loving is a dark and lonely existence.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass