I arrived at work this morning to an assortment of gift bags and brightly wrapped goodies from co-workers. The table in our office kitchen is groaning under an assortment of treats and festive snacks. My co-worker Lynette even set up a dispenser for hot wassail. (Non-alcoholic, but still!)
The holidays, I think we can all agree, bring out the best in most people. It’s a real opportunity for us to reach out and make each other feel valued and special. At home certainly, but also at work.
But there is also an opportunity at this time of year for deeper reflection. Reflection on our blessings. Reflection on those who are less fortunate. Reflection on the poor, hungry and troubled. Many of us reach out to connect with one another and support charities to give aid to the homeless, sick or to children who otherwise would not have a holiday. Giving, when done well, is receiving.
This is especially poignant this year. I spend a lot of time in December making treats and crafts. Over the past week, as I’ve worked on the little projects that will make Christmas special for my three-year-old, my thoughts have repeatedly tripped over the brutal reality of what happened in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday. My heart constricts when I think of those other mothers and fathers and what they are experiencing… and what they can never experience again. I am able to look forward to snuggling my little one on Christmas Eve and seeing her delight on Christmas morning—something for which I am unutterably grateful.
Part of coping with something frightening and horrifying is to try to make sense of it. If we cannot do that—and I’d argue that in this case few can—then we can at least try to take a lesson from it.
Perspective is the lesson I take this week. Sure, life presents me with challenges. But I can weather them. And I can try to use my excess energy to help others weather theirs. To connect with people. To be inspired by them. To try and make their day. To squeeze my daughter tightly. To make cookies and drink wassail with my co-workers—the people that spend eight hours of my day with me. To be thoughtful and humble and thankful.
That’s what the holidays are for me. Reflection and perspective.
I hope you have those gifts and many more this holiday season.