I’d like to share a story with you that, to me, symbolises why Christmas feels so special this year.
Yesterday, I took my son for a walk through our village, to take in the Christmas charm along the old cobbled streets. We marvelled at the festive decorations displayed in every window and the lights twinkling in the square. When we stopped at the old church, at the end of our road, they were giving a carol service. It was beautiful and even my restless son peacefully listened, smiling from ear to ear as the music resonated up into the tall timber eaves overhead. As we were leaving, we noticed a Santa’s Grotto. I’d not brought my purse but a sweet lady overheard me explaining this to my son and kindly insisted on paying the fee.
After Cian had spoken with a fine looking Santa Claus, we were invited to sign a prayer tree – we both pencilled our blessings out and hung them up, among so many others. I then lit a candle and became filled with the warmth of the moment. I was brimming with gratitude – for the smiles from neighbours we passed on our walk, for the heartfelt singing of the choir, for the random act of kindness from a stranger, the happy sparkle in my sons eyes, the prayer tree with all the blessings people had given and for the gracious gathering of community at the church. I’m not usually a church goer but, as I looked around me at the smiling faces of friends and neighbours laughing and embracing, I began to see the appeal.
I know that people are experiencing more moments of kindness like this recently and that is what makes this Christmas so special. There is clearly a growing trend to give, in ways that count far more than extravagance and consumerism. The best things in life, after all, are free.
Gifts of time and love
1. Support a cause
Whether we can afford to donate or not, we can still support a cause. William Bloom gave some great advice in this issue of the Cygnus Review about how we can best stick up for something we believe in.
A homeless vendor of the Big Issue once told to me that it helps him get through the day when people stop to talk, regardless of whether or not they can buy the magazine. Our company is a precious gift we can bestow on family, friends, neighbours and strangers alike. You can bet your family would much rather quality-time than having everything you ‘need’ for Christmas.
3. Revive memories
We can gift the elderly in our lives with a trip down memory lane by asking them about their Christmases past. This is a particularly nice thing to do with children; who doesn’t relish a child’s fascination?
5. Paying respects
We can still give to those who have passed. Maybe play their favourite song, light a candle, talk and laugh about happy memories – whatever is right for you. Those who are grieving find Christmas all the more difficult, compassion is the greatest gift you can offer them.
6. Give back to nature & wildlife
Permaculture is the perfect way to give recognition and gratitude to nature by following its perfect cycle. What better time to take it up than during a seasonal celebration?
7. Give understanding
Not everybody likes to do Christmas the same way. In every social gathering there will be cultural differences and there will be introverts as well as extroverts. It’s good to respect each other’s individuality and personal choices and if someone wants to leave early, to bid them farewell with a smile.
8. Give what you can spare
You can bet that any clothes you no longer wear or food you have to spare would go a long way to making someone else’s Christmas. There’s bound to be a charity near you that would gladly pass your donations on.
9. Random Acts of Kindness
It’s a real joy to give and receive kindness, especially at Christmas. When we’re mindful of others, opportunities to do so make themselves very clear.
A very powerful message Nelson Mandela gifted us with was that of forgiveness. ‘Forgiveness liberates the soul’ he said. If a man can forgive his captors after almost 30 years of being unfairly imprisoned, surely this is a gift, being one that enriches the giver as well as the receiver, that we can all afford.
Thank you for reading my email; your time and your friendship mean so much. Please remember that Cygnus welcome us to exchange messages and ideas on their blog (just follow the link below) and on their Facebook and Twitter pages. I look forward to seeing you there!
One love, Louisa