I was at dinner with some friends over the weekend, and we started talking about our favorite holiday memories. After a few stories were shared, I realized something. While it’s fun to reminisce about the familiar trappings of the season – presents, decorations, parties and special meals – the memories we treasure most, that stay with us the longest, are those that touch our hearts.
Here’s something that happened to me years ago that I’ll always remember. It was a few days before Christmas and my father and I were trudging through the snow, headed home after an afternoon of shopping. We knew that my mom was making a nice Sunday dinner, and we couldn’t wait to get home where it was warm and dry.
Suddenly a car pulled over in front of us. A couple and a young boy got out of their old station wagon. When we looked over, we noticed broken bits of twine hanging off the wagon’s roof, along with a few straggly pine boughs. The little boy looked heartbroken, and we could overhear the couple comforting him. We realized that the family Christmas tree had fallen off the top of their car.
We quickly went over to see if we could help. After checking the streets and gutters for a few blocks, we found the unfortunate tree – crushed and muddy – with branches broken beyond repair. The family couldn’t afford another tree, but my dad assured them he knew the owner of the local tree lot and that the man would help them out. He took the little family there and helped them pick out a new tree. I saw my dad discreetly slip the owner of the tree lot some cash, and we all helped the family attach the new tree securely to the roof of their car. They thanked my father and the tree lot owner profusely and drove away.
As we walked away, I felt warmed by the fact that we had helped this little family to recover from their holiday crisis.
“Did you really know the owner of the Christmas Tree lot?” I asked my dad.
“No, but I wanted to help them out, and I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. Paying for their tree and seeing that little boy smile was a gift for me, as much as for him.”
No one knew about my dad’s act of kindness except for myself and the tree lot owner, but it didn’t matter. The event generated a warmth that stayed with us through the walk home, and the rest of the evening.
Spreading love and light – 365 days a year.
I have gotten into the habit of celebrating the holidays simply. I love to honor the season by sharing good food and wine, and getting together to play board games with friends. Rather than going “all out” a few weeks a year, I try to treat every single day like Christmas. After all, the holidays are a time to share love and light – and as a medium and spiritual teacher, I’m lucky enough to be able to do that every single day of the year. Seeing someone’s face light up when I communicate a message from a loved one on the other side warms my heart. It reminds me of how I felt, decades ago, when my father and I helped that family get their Christmas tree.
A holiday wish for you.
I hope as you go through the season, you think about giving special gifts – ones that will leave a lasting feeling of warmth and love. Give the gift of forgiveness to a friend or co-worker that you’ve had a disagreement with. When you extend the olive branch, notice how good it makes you both feel! Help out someone less fortunate than you, when they least expect it. Smile at people you come in contact with, Sometimes, a kind, compassionate word is all it takes to spread a little light.
Enjoy the season of light, and keep spreading the love all year long!