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‘Tis the Season of Giving

My mother, who passed away twenty-one years ago, has been on my mind these past several days. She loved this time of year—the decorations, the music, the meals, the shopping, the gift making and giving, the surprises and, perhaps most importantly, being with family at a special, even sacred season. For her, the holidays were a season of giving.

Her excitement was palpable and has caused me to do an inventory of my feelings. Have I captured the excitement of the holidays and spirit of Christmas? I asked my wife, as we left to do a little Christmas shopping, last week, if she was excited. I should have known the answer. Of course she was excited. It’s the holidays.

A Child’s Excitement

I continued to reflect. My mind drifted back to my childhood. The holidays were always exciting back then. Of course, it had a lot to do with getting—out of school, a new bike one year, skis another, a hockey game with figures that moved up and down the ice, which my brother, Paul, and I played for hours.

Then I remembered a story my parents told about one of my first Christmas’s. I was four years old and wanted a rope. “A rope, is that all?” my parents would ask. “A rope,” was my reply. A few nights before Christmas I got brave enough to change my wish. “Could I get a pony on the end of that rope?” Needless to say, I didn’t get a real pony. But I got a stick pony (along with a cowboy hat and a rope) and rode that thing until I darn near killed it over the next several months. Little compares to the unbridled anticipation and excitement of a child at Christmas.

A Change in Meaning

As we grow older the meaning of the season changes. Most importantly, the spiritual meaning of the season becomes important. As a Christian, I love the story and symbols associated with the birth of Christ and enjoy the warm feelings and life-giving message of his ministry. He brought a message of peace and love towards our fellowman as radical and relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. And as I think about that message I know that the holidays are not about getting but rather about creating a season of gathering and giving.

Of course, the important giving is not material. (Most people would agree that the holidays have become far too commercial.) The important giving has to do with our hearts–our human connections, time together, appreciation, love and support. Now I feel the stirrings of some feelings within. Excitement is not the word. Maybe gratitude, even compassion. Judy and I are going to visit two of our daughters and their families during the holidays.

To Be Present

I think about what it will be like to be with our daughters and their families. (I have to confess, I always have a hard time putting my work aside.) But I don’t want to take this time for granted. We don’t see them that often. And it’s too easy to hurry from one activity to another. I really want to be present with them. Give them a good, long hug. Listen as my daughters and sons-in-law talk about their lives, their joys and frustrations. Watch them. Really see them. Join them in their routines. Have fun with our grandkids. Express the pride and love I feel for them.

Not that I expect everything to go smoothly. There will certainly be ups and downs. But to be fully present, without an agenda. To find joy in the gathering and the spirit of giving. That was my mother. And that is what I want this holiday season.


Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation, leadership, and teams. His tools and methods have helped hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of people transform the ways they work and live. To learn more, visit www.theheroschoice.com.

Comments

2 Comments

  1. Dan Boland

    A very good read! You are the BEST!
    In 2005 my wife and I learned what Christmas was all about you and Judy! Merry Christmas to you and your family. Dan & Ena

    Reply
    • Roger Allen

      Thanks so much, Dan. I think of you and Ena at this time every year.

      Reply

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