Open to the Wonder, The Gifts of People and Open Hearts

“Nothing is more important than the love of each other and the spirit of Christmas. Put that first  and all else will fall into place. Loosen your expectations and be open to the wonder, the gifts of people and open hearts. That’s all we really need and want.”

Sometimes I realize right away that the advice I have given another was not really mine, but a gift of guidance coming to and through me. The above paragraph was one I sent someone last week who was under the stress of holiday preparations. The last sentence popped out:” That’s all we really need and want.”

We shop, spend, and worry about getting the right gift, hoping it will evoke the response of happiness and appreciation for the recipient. Don’t get me wrong. I go through the motions as well. But that last sentence makes me pause. What do I really need and want? What do any of us really need and want? Truth be told, what I need this year can’t be bought or wrapped—and honestly, when it comes to material things, there is not a thing I need.

What do any of us need and want?  Appreciation comes to mind. I make a special point to thank the store clerks who greet you with a smile as if you were the first customer of the day, even though it is mid-afternoon and you have waited in line. Not enough people show simple considerations for each other. I’m surprised when someone let’s a door slam in my face behind them when leaving the post office, grocery store or at the bank. Small acts of consideration are appreciated. I love hearing how people “pay it forward” for the car behind them at Starbucks and fast food restaurants. We all want to feel appreciated, and not just for what we do, but for who we are.

After 23 years of living in Colorado, I still exchange holiday cards with a dozen people back east, and I let them know how much I enjoy hearing from them– learning about their families and travels for the year. I make it a point to let my family and friends know how grateful I am for them.  A hand-full of people matter the world to me, and I want them to know that. I don’t have to get a gift from my family to know they love me. I want to be near them, enjoying their company, laughing and just spending time together. Yes, my grandchildren are expecting a present(s) from me at Christmas, but they also treasure playing hide-and-seek and making up stories, and being silly together.

I do realize how blessed I am. I have had a challenging year, and yet not a day goes by that I don’t give thanks for all the ways I am blessed.

Nothing is more important than the love of each other and the spirit of Christmas. Put that first and all else will fall into place. Loosen your expectations and be open to the wonder, the gifts of people, and open hearts. That’s all we really need. That’s all we really want. And isn’t that, indeed, the spirit of Christmas?