What’s on your mind this holiday season? Are you worried about getting all of your shopping done on time? Have you decided which “Peter” you are going to rob from to pay “Paul” in order for the bottom of your Christmas tree to be filled with presents? Are you spending all of the gas in your car or countless hours on the internet scrambling to fulfill everyone’s wishes? Are you wondering whether you have enough display decorations, or if your holiday meal menu is long enough?.
At the first mention of the word “holidays” these are the thoughts that emerge for many people—and these are also the thoughts that, if not careful, can cause one to lose sight of the real meaning of the season. Society has flooded us with so many messages that the cases of the ‘Ineedits’ and ‘theyneedits have skyrocketed. As a result, our minds tell us that if we buy all of the gizmos and gadgets that our family and friends desire, then they will be happy and in turn, we will be happy..
My mindset was like this for many years too until a few years ago. After a long day of Christmas shopping in the cold and snow with my kids, I stopped at McDonald’s to get us something to eat, then made one final stop at Walgreens. As I pulled into the parking space by the front door, there was a man standing by the trash can, feverishly searching through it. Initially I thought nothing of it, but when I looked up again I saw him grab something out the trash can and eat it. He then repeated the process. When he realized that I had seen what he had done, he quickly hid behind the post that was there. My heart hurting for him, I grabbed all of the McDonald’s bags out of my car and walked them over to him. He was very resistant at first, but I reassured him that it was okay—that he could have everything. He ate 2 of the sandwiches immediately and thanked me with so much sincerity that I asked him if there was anything else that I could do—did he need more food or anything out of Walgreens or money for a cab or bus ride. He simply said, “No thank you, but I appreciate this so much-God Bless you!” He clinched the other bags under his jacket tightly and walked away with the biggest smile..
That incident changed my entire perspective on the holiday season. That this season isn’t about toys or presents or decorations—it is about peace. Having the peace of knowing that you are ok. That your loved ones are ok. It is about the peace in knowing and cherishing the fact that you are all together and are safe–of knowing that someone loves you and cherishes you unconditionally. That man may have lived close by, and may have taken that food home to feed his family for the night. Maybe he had to make a decision of paying the rent and utilities or buying groceries. Or maybe they did not have a home at all. Sure, they may not have had presents to exchange for Christmas, but they had each other—and at the end of the day, that is what matters most..
While engaging in gift exchanges and elaborate dinners during the holidays is wonderful, let us not forget those who are less fortunate–donate to Salvation Army or buy toys to give to Toys for Tots. If you see or know someone who could use an extra helping hand with providing the basics for their family this season, offer it to them–if even anonymously. Above all, remember that it is not the amount of gifts that your family is going to treasure the most: gadgets will come and go, but the love and togetherness you share during the holiday season will always be remembered for years to come. Finally, let us also not get so caught up in the commercialism that we forget the true meaning of the season and the real feeling that we should want everyone to have, which is peace.