|Taking Care of You
This morning I was asked to think about what I have that I value the most. I started thinking about my family and friends, my photographs, writing journals and dream journals. I started thinking about my son’s first blanket and lambie, now tucked away in a box in storage. I started thinking about the jewelry my grandmother and mother have given me.
Then I thought about the monks at the monastery making granola, how much I enjoy the sound of birds sing-songing in the morning, the color purple, the streaks of pink in the sky, ocean waves crashing to shore, cinnamon sticky buns, my mother’s laughter, the way my cat curls around my ankle in the kitchen, the smell of fresh coffee, outdoor music, the slight thwank thwank sound of a badminton birdie hit back and forth.
As the morning passed, I added more and more to my list. Things I have. Things I love. Oh yes, hot water for the shower, the taste of an orange, my son’s silly jokes, the color of the grasses on that hill, moving my fingers, being able to talk, that my head doesn’t hurt, the memory of that fuzzy pink pencil Donna gave me when I was five, the soft cotton of my shirt, the feel of breath in my body.
All the while I’m doing this, thinking of all the things I have, I am also thinking that I have a deadline to meet for the Connecting at Home Magazine. I’m thinking I don’t know what to write about. I’m slightly worried nothing will come to me; I’m afraid I’ll disappoint.
And out of nowhere, the words, “Season of Giving” popped into my mind. I’m suddenly filled with a familiar sort of energy and excitement. (This is something else I have: the good fortune to have a muse who sometimes whispers in my ear.)
I pause, think of the words, “The Season of Giving” …
My first thought is holiday shopping and to-do lists. I think about how often people feel depleted at the holidays. How time and money and energy can slip through one’s hands in the rush of planning and shopping and preparing. I think about the way we might say, “Oh, I’ve got to get so-and-so something.”
Then, I think about the look on kids’ faces when they first see the tree or menorah lit. I think about people’s faces in the airport, when they first spot their mom or daughter or cousin coming around the corner. I think about holiday stories passed down from generation to generation. I think about families gathered around tables, festooned with pine branches and cranberries in bowls.
I think about my own experience of giving—when it is genuine and heartfelt and when it is by rote, the checking off a list. And I know, from someplace deep inside, that for myself, I must tap into the “Season of Having” before I can step into “The Season of Giving.” When I am cared for, when I am full, when I am healthy, when I am grateful and warm and rested, then I am most able to give from a place of ease and generosity. This moment is a perfect example. It was only by spending time on myself thinking of all the things I have that I was able to find any sort of gift in my writing to hand to you. It was only by holding all the good things in my life that I was able to move easily into giving.
This is what I offer you this holiday season, this season of giving: I offer you a hot bath with lavender bath salts, I offer you fifteen minutes sitting by the fire, doing nothing. I offer you a cup of peppermint tea in your favorite café in the middle of a shopping trip. I offer you a night of letting the dishes soak in the sink while you spend the time reading your favorite holiday story to the kids. I offer you a long walk in the park, admiring the way the shadows play. I offer you a yoga class when you can’t possibly take the time for it. I offer you the chance to wear that perfume or lingerie or new dress you’ve been saving for “a special occasion.” I offer you the space to skip vacuuming and instead pick up that novel you’ve been wanting to begin. I offer you the possibility of writing a long letter to your mother, thanking her for who she is and all she has done, rather than purchasing a gift. I offer you the possibility of not giving any material gifts at all, but instead thinking of special events you can attend with loved ones, or ways you can spend time with them.
I offer you the very real possibility that the “Season of Giving” could start with giving to yourself, and could end with having an enormous amount of love and energy for everyone else you love. Perhaps for everyone, it can be a season, a circle, of having and giving.
Sherry Richert Belul (mother to a delightful six-year-old son named Kayne) is a freelance writer, and owner of a customized gift book business. Order her whimsical book, Simply Celebrate; 101 Simple Ways to Turn Ordinary Days into an Extraordinary Life, at www.simplycelebrate.net . It makes a great holiday gift!
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