|Our mostly empty Christmas tree|
As do so many, we regularly set aside a portion of our income for charitable donations, which includes purchasing gifts and food at the holidays for those that are in need. What was different for us this year is that instead of making holiday donations in addition to exchanging gifts, my spouse and I did so instead of exchanging gifts. We both agreed that we had come to a point in our lives where we simply had all we could possibly need, and adding to our own stash of "stuff" was no longer as important as trying to make a small difference elsewhere.
And amazingly, that small difference changed the entire energy around the holiday for both of us this year, allowing space for something else to come in . . . reflections on how blessed we are to be healthy and alive, and how much we love and are thankful for our family and our friends.
As a point of comparison - last year I was so exhausted by the time Christmas day arrived that I just wanted it to be over and done with. As I reflected back on why I how I had allowed myself to deviate so from the actual intention of the season, instead going to a place of utter exhaustion, I knew something had to give. The changes we made this year - foregoing giving gifts to each other, aiming for quality, rather than quantity, in the gifts we selected and gave to our daughters, leveraging the ability to shop online to avoid having to venture into crowded, stress-filled shopping malls and department stores, asking friends to grace us with their time this year instead of presents, and filling our calendar with as many opportunities as possibly to enjoy family, friends and seasonal celebrations - allowed each day in December to shine more brightly with the true meaning of the season.
I know there is still room for improvement, and I look forward to doing so in the years ahead, so please feel free to share your own successes in this area.
The happiest of 2012 New Year wishes to you all.