you might call me crazy, but i love being out & about this time of year. once upon a time of early motherhood, i thought it wise to shop for Christmas early with a plan to be wrapped & ready for december 1 so that i could really settle into Advent properly, quietly, reflectively. actually it did seem to make some sense, but do you know what i would do? hide the presents & forget where they were...or worse yet, that i had even bought them in the first place!
after a few seasons of this silliness, i realized that i was also missing being among the mass of humanity preparing for & celebrating the season. i missed the bell-ringers. i missed the hearty greetings rarely exchanged other times of the year. i missed the impromptu conversations struck up in the spirit of the season with others.
so back i am to the routine of old...i do no shopping for Christmas until december 1st! now, for sanity's sake...i go for a simple gift-giving approach~~ one with a budget & one done with love...no buying for the sake of buying, no impulse shopping, no demonstrations of love with dollars. (i do keep a running list of present possibilities throughout the year when inspirations strike!)
and with this task at hand...i go out into the world with joy! i am shopping for those i love. i am shopping for those who cannot. & i have a chance to give a warm smile & word of encouragement to every single person in my journeys.
what about the times when this season raises stress levels & brings out the uglies? (this is bound to be part of the journey...)
i found this timely reminder 2 Christmases ago & have kept it close to read frequently (even in other seasons)...to keep it all in perspective as i go about my path & bump into others on theirs...
Dear God...help us to remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mom who worked nine hours that day and was rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry, and spend a few precious moments with her children.
Help us to remember that the pierced, tattoed, seemingly disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19 year old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans next semester.
Help us to remember that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day is a slave to addictions that we cannot even imagine in our worst nightmares.
Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she received last week, this will be their last year they go shopping together.
Please gently remind us each day, that of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. it is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. open our hearts, not just to those who are close to us, but to all of humanity. Let us be slow to judge, and quick to forgive, to show patience, empathy & love.
i wish i could attribute these beautiful words, but i found them without the author's name. whoever you are...thank you!!