There were a lot of things about this Christmas season that occured to me to blog about. There was the whole discussion of "Happy Holidays" and the supposed "war on Christmas". There was the idea that I mentioned last year about this time, about the Power of the Physical - in particular, the reactions I get from people who receive my Christmas cards.
I've been thinking about the ending of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. About how Scrooge absorbed the lessons he'd learned from the Christmas Ghosts, about keeping Christmas throughout the year. So what was it that Scrooge learned?
He learned that in spite of the deprivations of his own childhood, in spite of the losses he had sustained, not in finances, but in people going out of his life, it is still better to care about other people then to withdraw into himself and be a miser about everything.
Joy matters. It's important. It's important that we find things in our loves that we enjoy, whether it is our friends and family, or our work, or just other people. Because money of itself doesn't provide enjoyment. Yes, it can be the means of providing it, but money itself just sits there. And these days, we rarely even have the illusion of the beauty of gold coins gleaming in light. Most of our money is shuffled around electronically, and if we have any physically in hand, it can become inconvenient. (I say this thinking of the bowls & boxes I have of loose change that I ought to convert into bills or something.)
Much too often, Christmas gets settled in our minds as a time when we get things. "What did you get for Christmas?" "I didn't get what I wanted. I have to go exchange it." And it makes me sad. It makes me sadder than the fact that I myself don't actually get very much for Christmas at all. My family is far flung, and we've fallen out of the habit of mailing presents to each other. Many of my friends are "starving artists" types, and I don't expect them to spend money on me. And that is fine! Far more important to me, far more important, is spending time with my friends and enjoying them.
But attached to that is the opportunity to give certain friends presents that suit them. Not big expensive gifts, but something suited to the person where they are at this moment in their lives. I really enjoy finding the thing that fits right then. Something that the friend might need but not consider getting for himself. Or something I know she would enjoy, but never think of.
Of course, the fact is, I actually like doing that sort of thing even if it isn't Christmas time. Back in my youth, when I didn't really have financial considerations, I liked pulling out the Un-Birthday Present. But, what I was doing on those occasions was a lot like Scrooge's resolution to keep Christmas year round.
This Christmas season, I'm thinking I really need to get back into that. I got a start on it earlier this year: I'd gotten a gift certificate for movie tickets with a large amount on it, and this allowed me to take a bunch of friends to a couple of movies. That was fun, going as a group, having fun at the movies. I sent off a couple of gifts to friends on impulse, ahead of the Christmas season, presents where were received with delight. The glow of knowing I hit on the right thing at the right time was very satisfying.
Of course, the key for this to work, is that you have to pay attention to the people around you, who they are and what they like. Throwing things at people just because you can is not part of "keeping Christmas all year".
Anyway, that's my "wisdom" for this Christmas season. Pay attention to the people around you. Give to them with the heart of love. Give to them those things that will delight them. Even if it's a small thing. It's surprising how even small things can bring that shining power of joy into play.