I remember those early mornings, waking up before sunrise to see what magically appeared under the tree overnight. I would kneel in front of that magnificent plastic tree, with big colorful lights covering my world with greens and reds and blues. When my sister finally awoke and joined me, we shared those last few moments together in total bliss, waiting for our parents to join us.
These are the memories we make as kids. Magic, merriment, and family all rolled up in a bundle of wrapping paper and colorful light.
As we get older, though, the gifts we receive change. Where our greatest delight once came from the biggest box under the tree, our greatest gifts today come from the lessons of our own children. Here’s what mine have taught me.
Live The Life You Were Meant To Live
Before young children experience fear, guilt, or hurt, they cannot stop being who they are at such young ages. They demonstrate a forthright determination to fulfill a life lived as genuinely as we can only imagine as adults. For my own children, this meant gymnastics, equitation, baseball, and creative expression. It’s bigger than that, though; it’s about tapping in to the core of who you are and just doing it, living it, simply because it is what is inside of you. For me, it is writing, photography, and music. These are my oxygen. My kids remind me every day that I should never sacrifice the air that I breathe, for any reason. This is their first gift to us.
A child’s compassion brings us to tears every single time, simply because it is pure; it is the nectar of our being. We see and feel our own love and innocence in their acts, and we even ask ourselves, at times, when did we become so jaded as adults? As I drive around town doing some last-minute shopping, the strangers around me shoot glares of anger, even threats of don’t-you-dares and get-out-of-my-ways. We complain that the holidays stress us out, but really — we are the generators of that stress. It’s not the stores, it’s not the pressure to buy! buy! buy!; it is simply our choice to abandon the basic principles of love because we feel that it is necessary to fulfill everyone else’s expectations. I don’t see our young children running around all stressed out during the holidays. I see them running around all excited, filled with love and magic and hope. Imagine shopping with a heart filled with those three wonderful things: love, magic, hope. This is their second gift to us.
Get Peace, Give Peace
As I walk through the stores and see frustrated moms and dads with their children, I don’t focus on the anger of the adults. I look at the children and see and hear what they are feeling, thinking, wishing, and dreaming: Peace. They don’t want their moms and dads angry, or frustrated, or stressed out. They want peace. They want the loud words to stop, the endless chain of No’s to finally find their end. They just want us to abandon our frustration, our anger, and receive their peace that they feel, enjoy the joy, and share in the magic. They don’t understand why we cannot see it or feel it. We can, if we only choose to. This is their third gift to us.
When our children were very young, and we would take them for Christmas drives to look at all of the pretty lights that you put up around your houses, we could not savor enough the oohs and aahs that would come from the back seat as they saw and felt and appreciated the magic of Christmas. We need to hear that again and carry it with us, not just in this holiday season, but always. We need to live our lives, love everyone, and participate in peace. These were never dreams of our children; they were their realities, just as they were once our realities as well.
Life. Love. Peace. Once and always within us.
Merry Christmas, everyone.