There was a time when Christmas, for me, was a lot of work and stress.
Don’t get me wrong. There was also a lot of fun. But it seemed the season involved a big buildup of pressure to make everything right.
The anxiety included shopping in crowds. There was stress about getting what people liked, ensuring I could afford what I wanted to buy, hoping everyone would be happy with what I chose. When our son was young, I wanted to be sure the magic of Santa was alive for him.
Then those gifts had to be wrapped. Please note: I am a terrible gift wrapper.
There was also stress around decorating our home, buying food, attending parties, hosting parties, and attending concerts.
Please understand that I have wonderful memories of those years. We always seemed to be around family, even if it meant traveling. If we couldn’t gather on Christmas day, we planned around schedules to be sure we saw everyone.
But our experience this year has reminded me of an important lesson about Christmas. The season is not about consumerism and purchasing the best gifts, and giving in to the incessant messages about buying everything we could ever want or need.
The true spirit of Christmas is about giving from the heart.
One year, we did a Christmas hamper for a family in need in our hometown. I will never forget my son’s reaction when he saw the home in which the family lived. We had so much, and they were so grateful for our gifts of food and presents for the kids.
We experienced the same this year in Mexico, when we participated in a toy drive into one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the community in which we are living. Thanks to a local business, we helped hand out toys and candy canes to kids in a neighbourhood with dirt roads and houses often made from scrap materials.
Christmas for me this year was about seeing the smiles on the faces of those kids, whether they got a car, a Barbie, a soccer ball or a skipping rope. Some were so delighted with the candy cane that we had to call them back to give them a toy. Their parents beamed when they saw their kids receive a gift.
So before we exert too much energy on the consumer side of Christmas, let’s remember a different kind of giving this year. Give to those in need. Give your love. Give your kids some undivided attention. Give yourself a break.
“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”