I've been spending a lot of time making lists and checking them twice these days. With due respect to Saint Nicholas and his minions, I personally am obsessed with list-making as an antidote against my basic paranoia that I'm going to forget something crucial on Christmas morning. Like leave a gift languishing in a closet...unwrapped and forgotten...and realize that someone that I care about is thinking that I've intentionally overlooked them. In my family, those things tend to happen...and nobody will say anything about it at the time.
But they will later on...privately. Like, for decades.
Anyway, I've felt pretty good about getting everything done and actually having time to enjoy the holidays this year. I always prefer cold weather in December, and I certainly haven't been disappointed this year. Some years I've had to run the air conditioning just to keep from sweating while putting ornaments on the tree. I gave up on having a "white Christmas" years ago after realizing that if we actually DID get snow...it would shut down life as I know it. We don't do snow down here...like at all. We close our schools and more often than not...our power goes out. Heaven forbid that we even think about driving in it either.
A few minutes ago, I looked under the Christmas tree and saw way more gifts than I intended to buy...in spite of the fact that I have really not spent a tremendous amount of money, generally speaking. But a few people remain on my gift list...and continue to absolutely baffle me. I am hoping that I will have an epiphany while coasting through a store with a 30% off coupon in my hand, but the odds of that happening are about the same as me landing on the front of the Victoria's Secret catalog. Or quite frankly, being able to order anything myself anything from there other than cosmetics, slippers, or gift cards.
I suppose that I've been thinking about material gifts for so long...acquiring the right items, getting them in the mail, wrapping them, tagging them, (and in January...paying for them) that I honestly wish that there was some kind of clearinghouse for the kind of gifts that really mean a lot to me. Gifts that people sometimes give freely without even thinking about it because they don't realize the value of it to another person. And if you do actually dare to point them out...you are normally greeted with a blank stare and a denial that it was any big deal. I suppose that they fail to realize that most of us might be overfed physically...but emotionally...we are starving to death for a kind word, recognition that we have something to offer, or simply confirmation that what we bring to this party called "life" actually matters.
Because it is certainly easy to get the message that we don't matter at all. Especially if we have children.
I suppose I'd like to ask Santa to bring me an extra measure of encouragement this year. And I mean the "real" stuff...not the fake platitudes or the social niceties that all of us are prone to do in awkward situations. I mean...I hope that God will put the right people in my path to keep me from quitting when the going gets tough. I have a tendency to be a little bit like the Energizer bunny, but I don't normally have those nice little rechargeable batteries. I think I'm going to need those next year.
After putting my dreams on hold for many years, I'm realizing that the time has come for some of those dreams to be revived, defrosted, or nursed to health. It wasn't until fairly recently that I even realized that they were still on life-support.
And while I am becoming aware of my own dreams...I hope that I will speak up in those situations when someone else's accomplishments, courage, or creativity really inspire me. Sometimes I stop myself because I'm worried that people will think I'm nuts for saying anything. But who am I to do that? I hope that I won't really care what people think in the coming year. I need to speak up!
After all, one of the greatest gifts that we can give each other...at Christmas...or anytime...is the gift of encouragement. And the good news is...it is budget-friendly. Yet to the person receiving it...it can be more precious than gold. I mean...there IS no price on a word of encouragement aptly spoken. The results can be life-altering...and world-changing.
Works for me.