Giving You’ll Never Regret; Giving You’ll Always Remember
If we pull ourselves away from our television sets, and the stores and malls, with their endless litany promoting all the things we can buy in celebration of the season for our loved ones – loved ones, we are told, who wait in hysterical anticipation of our material offerings – we may find ourselves experiencing a completely different season of celebration.
If we pull ourselves away from the commercial and ritual expectations that weigh upon us, with all the places to be and all the things to do, we may find ourselves experiencing what they call, ‘the real reason for the season.’
After all, it’s not the anniversaries of the season that make it sacred and magical and worthy of celebration. Religious scholars place the birth of Jesus in the springtime, some years earlier than depicted by our calendar. Constantine, in an attempt to reconcile early Christianity as a state religion with the Roman celebrations of Saturnalia and Sol Invictus, sanctified the date we now recognize. Thus, the celebration of Christmas (Christ’s Mass) evolved (if we can use that word) to what we have today. Similarly, the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah evolved from a less complex holiday to a more elaborate complement to the Christmas season. The overlap of these and other holidays is no coincidence. Originally, our ancient ancestors in cultures throughout the northern hemisphere developed post-solstice winter festivals to raise spirits and bolster folks through the cold time ahead.
The weather and scarcity of the sun inspired our ancestors to develop these festivals around religious themes. This does not in any way diminish the sanctity of our modern holidays. It’s not the dates that are holy; it’s that the events are holy and worthy of celebration from which the power and enchantment of the season comes.
Ironically, the commercialization of the holidays has begun a trend which extends the season for longer periods each year – all in the name of material profit. Yet, we can only get so much joy from stuff, screaming hysterical kids notwithstanding. So, let’s explore some ways of returning the sanctity to the season, beginning with the concept of giving.
In less than a week from now, we will be cleaning up the last of the holiday lights and wrappings and putting away gifts. Many of these gifts will be of less use to us than the giver anticipated, and by the next holiday season, we indeed may forget the source of the gifts – as others may forget the source of the gifts we give. This is because so many material gifts have little or no foundation in the heart.
The greatest gifts we can give have no manifestation in material reality at all! These require the greatest effort for many of us – far more than giving material gifts – but they absolutely bring the most joy to all involved. If you would like to offer gifts you’ll not regret giving – gifts you and the receiver will always remember – offer gifts of the heart. These are the gifts that come from Christ consciousness – the gifts that will forever light the candles in a thousand hearts, because the light in one heart cannot help but light the heart of another.
This is a dare – a dare to give not just from the heart, but of the heart! At each occasion, go to someone special (there are many of them), take their hand, and looking them in the eyes with all of your feelings for them, say something like: “Do you know how much I love you?” Vary the recipe according to your taste: “I love you so much!” or, “I’m so grateful to have you in my life!” Don’t limit this approach to romantic or familial relationships.
Yes, it may not be your “style,” and the words may stick in your throat, but bring yourself to say them. You will never regret it. Even if you have to preface your words of love by saying something like, “This is difficult for me to find the words, but I have to say it . . .” then say it. With a message like this, even the awkwardness will be treasured by your recipient. You can lead up to, or continue beyond, your statement of love by sharing how much it means to have the person with you this holiday, or how much you appreciate their always being there, or something like how glad you are to have them in your life.
“But,” you ask, “What if there is tension between us?” If the other needs forgiveness, your words will suffice. If you need the forgiveness, own up to your offenses and/or insensitivities – then share how important it would be to you to have a meaningful relationship. This may take time, especially if the offenses have been many and deep. The key in all offering of love is that it be offered unconditionally – without judgment or expectations – especially if there is tension in the relationship. This is the giving from the “pure heart” that can be accurately discerned by even the densest among us. When you express yourself from a pure heart, if not now, eventually, there will be no regrets for your courage and candor. Indeed, your gift of the heart will be remembered now and in the life to come.
There are so many ways that we can express our deepest feelings as a gift for those in our lives. Parents can share how much they appreciate what their children are becoming (as human beings, not occupations or bread-winners). Children can acknowledge how their parents have contributed to their finding direction and meaning in life. Friends can share how they bless the day their companion walked into their lives.
These are truly spiritual blessings. No amount of them would fill the smallest stocking, yet only one of them is substantial enough to change lives. Such a gift is an intangible dedication of the dwelling of the heart.
Let’s all of us make the commitment to give on this level, then let us wrest the lengthening of the season from the commercial interests. What’s in your wallet is of no significance compared to what’s in your heart. Let us extend the season until we sanctify every date as an occasion to shine the light of Christ into each other’s lives; that the gift of the kindling of our hearts, from one person to another may continue endlessly until there is true peace on Earth.
Granville Angell © 12/2006
Granville Angell, EdS, LPC, NCC, is the local author of The God-Shaped Hole – A Story of Comfort for The Child in All of Us. Email him: angell(AT)transitions-counseling.com, call his private practice, TRANSITIONS , at 704-276-1164; visit his web site: www.transitions-counseling.com, where you can read prior articles.
To call TRANSITIONS/SoulMentors: (704) 276-1164