During Advent as we await Christmas many of us suffer a dearth of ideas for gifts.
Let me encourage you to give tickets to Donna Washington’s performance on February 1.
Share the joy with family and friends.
The memories will far outlast this years must have thing.
This week’s story details an epiphany I’ve had about my childhood Christmases.
Next week, Linda Goodman who appeared in our first Hearts Afire Storytelling Festival back in 2017 has graciously agreed to let me share one of her stories.
Remember: You Matter. Your Stories Matter. Tell Them Well!
The Storytellers Channel
Why Get Up in the Morning?
Existential questions plague us all this time of the year. I was watching the sitcom Mom the other night and the title character said, “The holidays get me down.” And her friend replied, “Oh, you’re the one.”
The holidays amplify everything in our lives.
I remember when Christmas was something I looked forward to. Santa had my list and I knew this was the year. The year I would get what I asked for. This year would bring the thing, whatever that year’s thing was.
Before we go any further this is not a woe is me story. I was an only child and Christmas morning looked like they’d unloaded a dump truck under our tree. But I don’t remember ever receiving the thing.
Whatever disappointment I may have experienced concerning the absence of the thing was offset by Santa’s and my parent’s imagination and largesse.
In looking back on this syndrome of receiving gifts greater than my imagination I have decided this is where my lack of attachment to things began. Don’t interpret this as my not liking good stuff. I love fine food and well-tailored clothes. I enjoy being surrounded by beauty. But, I’ve had my house burn down and I’ve been forced to divest myself of many things due to the collapse of business and personal relationships and I don’t miss the things.
As I grew the joy of getting evolved into the joy of giving and once again Christmas became stress full. I never seemed to have enough money to give my loved ones the things they’d either expressed a desire for or I had discerned they’d enjoy.
I’m 67 and I’m surprised to say it was only recently that I think I realized the reason for my early Christmas experiences.
My daddy was a bricklayer and later a contractor. He started taking me to work with him when I was 10. I would carry brick and eventually I grew strong enough to carry water and mix mortar. I have distinct memories on Christmas Eve during my teen years of finishing a job after dark using the lights from the pickup truck. The homeowner would have been instructed to be prepared to pay in cash. Daddy would pay his men and we would all head back to town, for frequently the job was in some backwoods county far from Richmond.
It was during these years that I discovered the myriad of imaginative gifts that could be found in the 24-hour People’s drug store at Boulevard (now Arthur Ashe Boulevard) and Broad Street.
I say I just realized why I don’t remember receiving the thing for Christmas. It was because by the time daddy had the money, the thing was nowhere to be found. Once again illuminating the adage, necessity is the mother of invention.
On the other hand, it’s entirely possible my father was simply offended by following the pack and knew that he knew better what would delight his son than the folks on Madison Avenue.
You’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with the title, “Why Get Up in the Morning?”
My mom is 89 now. Her memory is unreliable, which is aggravated by anxiety and depression. My dad shuffled off his mortal coil 27 years ago and momma regularly laments why was he taken and not her. I struggle to help her find a comforting answer.
I’ve settled on, she’s here to continue to help me learn to be more compassionate. Her role as mother is not done.
Momma’s circumstances challenge my personal mission of enjoying life and enthusing others to find joy in their life.
So, in this season where giving and getting reigns, I no longer get out of bed in the morning in the pursuit of stuff. Instead, I rise to serve, to listen and in some cases just to be there.
During this period of Advent as we wait for Christmas, I encourage you to get out of bed and be present for those who just need someone to be there for them.
For after all, the word compassion means to suffer with and sometimes that’s all we can do.
And when I think about it, that’s probably enough.
I Want to Hear from You
As we approach 2020, I’d love to hear your stories about what the new decade holds or what you’ve learned from the first two decades of the new millennium.
Til next time,