Preparing for Christmas is almost more exciting than the day itself… because we often lose sight of what Christmas is really about. Every year, it takes more and more time for me to find the holiday spirit, but when I do, it is worth it. I don’t decorate, go out and celebrate in some big way, but I do share what I have with those that I love. It’s never much, but it’s always enough.
The kids get the same gift every year, $20.00 neatly wrapped in some new idea found on Pinterest, or sometimes in a card. Other times, I hand them the often battered, worn, dirty bill… demanding a hug and a kiss on the cheek in return. This year, they get a pretty gift because the spirit of the season came early enough for me to prepare something fun.
Of course, the (almost) three year old is too little to understand or appreciate the concept of money, so this year, to go along with her latest obsession, she is getting Ninja Turtle dolls. It’s always more fun to buy a gift than give money, but let’s face it… once you reach a certain age, money is much more appreciated as the “cool things” just aren’t something us old aunties understand. She still gets the jar of M&M’s, just with a two dollar bill instead of a twenty because, well, although she doesn’t grasp the idea of cash, she understands the value of not getting the same thing as the other kids.
Moving along. That twenty dollar bill that I mentioned, tattered, torn, and obviously looking a bit wrecked, is much like life. In accordance with Christian belief, Christmas is recognized as a holiday, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Mind you, Pope Benedict disputed the idea that Jesus’ birthday is actually on December 25th, as have other knowledgeable persons. That’s neither here, nor there. The fact is, most people (yes, I understand we are all different. There are atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians… what have you. I’m not about to try to make this into a political, religious or spiritual issue) believe the reason we celebrate is to honor Jesus. He was tattered, torn and broken. And so are we.
We walk into recovery as a broken person. Defeated against the very thing we fought to keep alive, we admit to ourselves and anyone who will listen, that destruction has found a home in our heart. We allow others to save us from our addiction until we are well enough to allow a Higher Power into our hearts as we being to save ourselves. It doesn’t look pretty and it certainly isn’t easy, but it is simple… if we allow it to be.
This time of year reminds me of several things:
We are missing our people
Everyone deserves a chance
Love always wins
Gratitude carries us a greater distance than condemnation
Giving is better than receiving
We are the lucky ones
There are a million more things I think about this time of year, but for me, those are the top six…
This time of year is hard for a lot of people. We remember those we’ve lost as we draw on the heartache that we thought was healed. Vividly remembering silly moments… sitting on a curb in the rain, singing love songs on gravel roads and wrapping our arms around the neck of a man, never imagining you’d have to let him go just a few months later. We remember those who have gone before us and think of the what if’s, the could have, should have, would have moments, and the desire for one last chance to say goodbye. These are the memories that kept me drunk and high for so many years, numbing the spirit of the holiday and pushing aside any real emotion… Thankfully, today I get to feel it and find gratitude in the time we had, mourn the losses all over again and pick myself up for a new year of goodness, growth and love.
We also spend a great deal of time around the holidays with family and other loved ones… most of them driving us crazy from time to time and some that we down right don’t want to acknowledge. We do it anyway. Every single one of us deserves the chance to feel peace, happiness and love every day… especially on Christmas. What has the Divine shown us, if not forgiveness and compassion? What lessons have we learned, even if we don’t believe, as we read or hear about scripture? Be kind, always.
Love. Always. Wins. I’m not talking about being IN love, I’m talking about love. Be kind, be open, be a decent human being. We get to allow people into our lives, to see our hearts and to understand a faith in humanity that is, again, often crushed. SHOW LOVE.
It always makes me laugh… watching social media change. Beginning on November 1st, a great magnitude of people begin to acknowledge what they are thankful for. It’s like from January 1-October 31, no one can acknowledge their gratefulness, or express joy over the simple things; however, once the “holiday season” begins to roll around, we jump at the chance to express our gratitude for things we’ve had all year. Better yet, we jump at the chance to tell the world the good deeds we’ve done as a part of this “Month of Gratitude”. I’m as guilty as the next guy. I find myself much more thankful as I reflect upon years past, wondering how I was going to sneak away from Christmas dinner to score heroin. Stocking up on all the alcohol I would need for Christmas day because Heaven knows the liquor stores aren’t open. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong for people who do that anyway… if you enjoy a few beers on Christmas, by all means, stock up. I am simply grateful that I don’t have to count my drinks the night before to make sure I leave enough for Christmas day. My heart feels richer as I live in this gratitude than it did when I was constantly complaining about anything and everything.
Plus, this year, and for the last few years, since I haven’t wasted my money on drugs and alcohol, I actually have a tiny bit extra to give to others. This year wasn’t much. I put together a few “pamper yourself” kits, made homemade bath bombs, which was an interesting task, and shared a piece of my heart with those I love and care about. I’ve made candies and cookies and other goodies that I can share because I have enough. That makes my heart happy. To see the look on other people’s faces as I present them with a gift, no matter how small, is enlightening. It allows for a place of hope… the world can be cold, filled with dark souls and unhappy faces. But for a moment, when we give of ourselves or of our homes, we see the light that was meant to be before the bigotry of the world crashed into us all.
Lastly, we are the lucky ones. The longer I am in recovery, the more people we bury, the more hurt we see, the more pain we feel. Not everyone has been lucky enough to get this gift. 954 days into this journey and I have been grateful for every last one of these days, whether good or bad. Walk gently into the lives of others and hold out your hands to help another person struggling with addiction. There are men, women and children who suffer from this disease without an answer. Seek them. Sometimes a friendly face is enough to give them the hope they need to find a solution. You may be the only face of recovery they ever see. Make sure it’s a face of light, hope and love. Make sure it’s filled with life and happiness. Make sure… it’s grateful… for we are, the lucky ones.