What if we could generate some holiday love for people who need it most?
It’s December and if you listen closely you can hear the thrum of the holidays just below the surface. Maybe it is an influx of shopping ads on websites or the radio. Maybe it is the jam-packed calendar of things to do. Maybe it’s extra trips to the post office, bright red bows on the lampposts or the sound of Christmas Muzak everywhere you go.
For me, as a Buddhist in a Christian society, it is often perplexing to know what to make of the winter holidays. For many years I’ve focused on gatherings with friends and family, allowing myself to create experiences with people and letting those rich connections be my gifts. (If you read my Kind Over Matter article last month, you might remember the Holiday Hoopla – an annual day of fun and memories. This is one way to celebrate the season without buying into a mindset of shopping lists and spending.
In addition to giving gifts of my time and creating joy, I also choose to focus on the light. I’ve always loved the bright lights that are strung everywhere during this time of year. It’s a simple metaphor but one that resonates deeply with me: bringing light into darkness. In my own story it was a tiny pinprick of light that led me out of a deep dark iron-wall-closing-in-on-me depression. I followed moments of light like they were breadcrumbs. I know how lifesaving it can be.
Already in this holiday season I’ve been deeply moved by several friends of mine who are undergoing serious illnesses or who are grieving the deaths of loved ones. When I look at the holiday season through their eyes, I can see how difficult it can be to experience pain and loss during a time when so many people are feeling light and joyful. The contrast is intense. Couple that pain with the fact that all too often people who are suffering are forgotten in the busy rush of the season and all of its celebrations.
Let’s change that.
Will you pause for a moment to consider whether there is someone you know who might be grieving, lost, disappointed or lonely right now? Maybe you know a parent who is recently divorced? Or do you know someone whose spouse has died? Maybe you know someone who lost their job or whose long-time dream fell from their grasp? Perhaps there is someone who is simply having a tough time emotionally and whom you know will feel left out of the holiday festivities.
Would you be willing to join me in a Santa’s Helpers Campaign to bring special gifts of love to these people who need it?
Could you choose just one person that dropped into your mind when you paused and commit to sending that person a short Love List? (A Love List is simply a list of the reasons why you love someone.) All you need to do is sit down for a few minutes and consciously think about that person and what makes them special to you. You can think about wonderful things they say, do and are. You can imagine their face and see what drops in about them.
Your Love List can have two items on it or twenty. You can write the items on a card or print out a list with a photo. You can fill a tiny stocking with slips of paper that each describe something you love. You can read more about how to make and present a Love List in my previous Kind Over Matter article.
Can you imagine the how much it could mean to someone who is having a difficult time to receive a gift like this? Please don’t put this off. It could change everything for someone you love.
Make the list, then mail it in a greeting card or pretty envelope. Or, you can fold it up, box it up and wrap it up to be given in person. Set up a time soon to visit your friend – and don’t cancel the date no matter how busy you are!
And if YOU are the person who needs the light, consider making that Love List for yourself or invite a friend over and make Love Lists for each another while you sip some cinnamon tea. You can be your own Santa’s Helper!
How about it? Just for today, make your “to do” list a Love List, not a shopping list.