Merry Christmas. Always.

It is Christmas Eve.  Around the world, it is a night of faith and religious contemplation and celebration. Some people see tonight as a night of reflection and a night of deep gratitude for the blessings we have received. And of course, there are those of us who still believe in Santa and angels here on earth.

I am deeply grateful for the blessings that are around me as I write this, and because 2014 has been probably the most difficult and challenging year of my adult life, I savor all the positives so much more intensely. Perhaps because of the challenges of my own 2014, I want my Christmas gift to others to be the words, “I understand”. I know that sometimes the world is lonely, sometimes we have family members that are ill and we feel as if we are on an island of despair. I know that some of us have financial woes that drag us down so far that we think we can never get above water. I know that some of us get the feeling that a deep breath is just too hard to take because the pressure on us is so heavy that we can’t get air. I know. And I understand.

But I want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is always, always light. We just need to remember to look for it. We need to prepare ourselves for the fact that the light will appear sometimes out of nowhere, but if we are ready and open, that light can become brighter with each passing moment. And we can’t quit giving of ourselves. Because, as Khalil Gibran said, “I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”

For those of us who are in the midst of our holiday festivities, I’d ask that we be cognizant of our own gifts during this holiday, but be also aware that there are those amongst us who may be fighting their own battles. They could be silent and smiling and participating in our holiday events, but could be suffering from depression or addiction or loneliness for home and familiar surroundings. Our neighbors and friends, although we believe ourselves to know them, may have family members that are struggling and in turn, causing strife in their daily lives that remain hidden from us. Your awareness and compassion for their challenges could very well make the difference in their day, their month or more.

Only two months ago, a kind word from a loving heart brought me to tears because that person took the time to to not only ask how I WAS, but she waited for the answer. She looked me directly in the eyes, touched my arm and after I said, “fine”, remained there, showing me that she truly wanted to know. She didn’t ask in passing. She asked in caring.

When I found myself bogged down with the weight of the world and I needed a friend, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share my personal woes with anyone else. But there appeared, out of the most unlikely scenario, angels from far away, who protected my emotions, shared their own hearts and lifted me up in unexplainable ways. Their friendship made me able to breath in more deeply and feel my blessings more intensely.

This holiday, as we tear open the wrapping paper of our many gifts, let us also peel away the deep layers of the people close to us and listen to their struggles, their challenges and let them know they are not alone.

I wish you all joy this holiday and forever, because you have given me so much in your simple acts of kindness and love. “For it is in giving that we receive,”said St. Francis of Assisi, and oh, was he right.

God Bless Us Everyone.



Author: jillswain

Former Mayor Chamber of Commerce Exec. Director Advertising consultant Mom and spouse (30 years and counting!) Rec league girls' volleyball coach Champion of all things Huntersville, North Carolina

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