Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year for most people! There are family get-togethers, shopping, vacations, and so much more! Christmas is also one of the hardest times of the year for people. Their family might be celebrating Christmas in a prison visiting room, grieving the loss of a loved one, or struggling to get presents for their kids. This time of year it is important to pause and reflect on three actions; no matter which category your family falls in.
Growing up with my dad in prison made it extremely difficult to stay encouraged and happy during the holidays. My mom did what she could to distract me from the fact that we were about to spend another Christmas as a family in a visiting room full of strangers. However, when the day was over I would get into bed, the noise would stop, the distractions were gone, and it was an instant reminder that my dad wasn’t home.
My mom taught me and my brother, at a very young age, the value of a gift. Big or small. She explained that a gift doesn’t have to be something we open or even something we eat. A gift could be someone saying a kind word, holding the door for us, or even a smile. Naturally, my brother and I didn’t fully understand this and we wanted to open presents, but those lessons helped us to recognize kindness and love from others – beyond a present.
It is so easy to lose sight of the spirit of holidays and focus on outdoing your neighbor. This reminds me of The Grinch movie with Jim Carey. Cindy Lou Who’s mom was doing everything she could, even stealing traffic lights, to try and outdo her neighbor in decorating the house. Only to learn that her neighbor bought the newest and best light shooter gun to decorate her house. It wasn’t until the Grinch stole all their presents, all their Christmas food, and all their Christmas decorations that everyone in Whoville remembered what Christmas is all about. Showing each other love, kindness, and being present when spending time together.
So, this Christmas these three actions will enhance your experience. It will provide a better Christmas for someone who may be experiencing a rough patch:
Kindness goes a long way- it has the power to completely change the direction of someone’s day. In the same way, the lack of kindness can ruin someone’s day. Showing kindness does not only benefit the one receiving it, but it makes the giver feel good too. It’s ok to be kind for the sake of feeling good. We all need to be lifted up and if that means showing kindness in an effort to feel better, then let that be your motivation. Eventually, you will be so filled with gratitude that you will just exude kindness without even trying and/or seeking self-gain.
Love seems to be the easiest gesture to neglect. How often are you saying “Love you” to your family? If you’re anything like me, then you say it all the time. Some might think that because I say it so often and to so many people that it doesn’t have the same effect as if I were to limit the amount of people or the amount of times I say it, but I strongly disagree. I might be the only person that says love you to someone for that day, week, maybe even that month. Naturally, there are different ways I say “love you” to people. For example, I only put the “I” in front when talking to my family and close friends. There really isn’t a greater gift to give to someone than love. So, this holiday season, take time to say “love you” to your family and friends.
English can be tricky! So, when I write the word “present” I am not referring to an object, but instead being in the moment. Be present with your family, friends, and if you run into a stranger who just wants to talk for a couple of minutes – be present with them, too. I am guilty of being on my phone while my kids are showing me something, Or, all too often, if my wife is telling me a story and my phone goes off, instead of letting her finish, I quickly check it to see what it was. Don’t let the distractions of your phone, TV, or even chores distract you from being present.
I hope you have a great Christmas this year! These three actions will help you and your family grow stronger together and embrace the true meaning of this holiday season.