Posts Tagged ‘generosity’

It is the crazy time of year.  The time when I wake up far too early because my brain, even while asleep, is working through all the things I have to take care of.  The time when I try to strategically plan what order I need to do things in, in order to get the maximum amount accomplished.  The time when I’m barraged with television ads that try to convince me that I really should go out and buy that Lexus for my loved one, or extra canned crescent rolls for my family so that there won’t be a fight at the dinner table.

Well, I don’t need a new car, and I’m making my own dinner rolls, so cross those things off my list.  I’ve made my chocolate bark (two kinds) and candy and dipped fruits, and mostly, the baking is done.  My husband has a project going on in Santa’s workshop for family members (I’m not blowing the surprise by saying what it is here, but if you want to know, write to me), and I’ve got enough errands to keep me going for hours.

I am, however, carving out time for the really important stuff, the stuff that reminds me what this season is supposed to be about.  One friend just lost his wife after a long and brave struggle with cancer.  Paying a call to him the other night was high on my list of important things to do, and being present to honor his spouse today is a promise I will keep.  Another friend has had hard times over the years, and needs help organizing her home and just cleaning the years of accumulated stuff  that have overwhelmed her.  I’m honored that she trusted me enough to come and help, and I’m glad to give the time to mucking out and making her house, and her life, more liveable.

And as I do these things, and look for others in the same vein to do as well, I am reminded, again and again, that it’s not the fancy stuff that you can buy in the stores that can make a difference for people.  Sometimes it’s just showing up, sitting there and listening to people as they talk, being a witness for someone’s memories and pain, that is the greatest gift.

The other day, I performed two shows with our Revels Repertory Company in a glorious old mansion in Falmouth.  The people who had lived there were wealthy and lived in the lap of luxury, with elegant rooms, maids, many servants to respond to their every whim.  The house was decorated to the nth degree for the holidays, including glittery signs that said, “Believe,” hanging from the tops of the staircases.

Last night, at a meeting at a Cambridge church where I am doing some consulting work, the people who show up on Tuesday evenings for the church’s free dinner were sitting and eating.  There were coats and hats and gloves – donations from an area charitable organization – being given out, along with packages of bread to take as these travelers journeyed into the cold night following their hot meal.  What do these people, who have fallen on such hard times, have to believe in, I wondered, in this season where so much is painted with glitter?  What do they have to “believe” in?

As I left the church last night, headed for the subway and my home, I held the faces of those I saw at the church in my head.  I hoped, most of all, that they would find a warm place to sleep that night.  That someone would be offering them a warm meal again tonight.  That someone would reach out in kindness and give them a hat or gloves when they needed it.  Small things, things that make a huge difference.

We do not need to be reminded that this is known as the season of light.  Last night, we began lighting Hannukah candles to remember the miracles experienced so many years ago in a temple that had survived battles, a temple where there was oil for only a day.  The lights burned for eight days instead, defying logic and bringing hope to a people. And tomorrow is the solstice, the shortest day, the time when, as Susan Cooper reminds us, people decked their homes with evergreens and lit fires, to drive the dark away, as they waited for the light to return.

In that spirit of hope and belief in the light that will once again return, I focus my attentions, this holiday season, on the everyday things that I can do – that we all can do – to bring the light to another person.  May we all bestow such blessings on one another.

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