The Spirit of Christmas: A Personal Story

I can’t remember what year it was exactly. I was small, I know that, so maybe two or three years old. Being so young, you wouldn’t think I would have such vivid memories of a Christmas, but this particular year I remember well.

My dad was in the hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown. Our mum was left to care for the four of us kids on her own. I’m not sure if she was working at the time or not, but I do know that dad had a business fail which contributed to his nervous breakdown, and that times were tough, money was tight, and mum was feeling it. I remember curling up on her lap many times as she cried. I didn’t understand why she was crying, but I knew she needed a hug, just as I did when I felt sad.

It was nearing Christmas when mum became particularly sad and stressed. No doubt she was looking at the four of us kids, ranging from ages two to fourteen, and wondering how she would provide for us, let along give us a Christmas. And then it happened. Our Christmas miracle.

There was a knock at the door one day. Mum went to answer it, and when she did, I saw strangers on the other side carrying bags and boxes, asking to come in. They brought the parcels into the house and began unloading. A turkey with all the fixings, and a bag full of gifts for each of us kids to put under the tree. The next thing I remember was my mum’s face as it began to melt with tears that streamed down her cheeks. I held on to her legs and cried too.

I remember that my dad was let out on a day pass to celebrate Christmas with us that year, and I can even tell you the gifts I received from those kind strangers: a Weeble Wobble Tree House, a Baby Alive doll, and an elephant head that you attached to the bathtub spout. When you turned the water on, it sprayed in a stream out of his trunk. To my small self, that was the coolest present ever.

Mum never let us forget that Christmas. As dad’s health and our financial situation improved, mum made it her mission to pay back the kindness we had received, and pay it forward to those who needed it after us. Every year she would take us to the tree that held names of children who needed their own Christmas miracle. We would pull off a card and buy a gift for that child, returning it to the tree to be delivered before Christmas. And it made me feel so damned good. It’s a tradition I continue with my own children today.

This is the spirit of Christmas.

Giving selflessly to those you love, but also to those who are in need. And you can say I didn’t need a Weeble Wobble toy, a new doll or an elephant that spurted water out of his trunk. But what my family did need that year was cheer. Love. Compassion. And we received it. Every person in this world who is suffering needs those exact same gifts, and my friends, they are in you to give.

If you can’t donate a gift to a needy child, you can donate your time to a needy charity. If you have no time to give, then give your love or compassion to someone who feels alone. A simple smile, a kind word, a promise of a helping hand when time does allow you. Because the spirit of Christmas needs to be shared not only on December 25th. It can – and should – be shared the whole year through.

Miracles do happen, and each of can be the miracle workers. Spread love this holiday season, my friends, far and wide. The joy you can bring to another person’s life is unbelievable, and indescribable. I have felt it, I have shared it, and I will continue to do so. I encourage each of you to be a miracle for someone this season. Your heart will grow and your consciousness will expand. And that right there is the best gift you can give yourself.

Merry Christmas, and all the best in 2013. Let’s work together to change the world.

Wishing you peace and love,

Jo

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PEACE: An Open Challenge to the World

Late last night while watching the news, my heart grew heavy. What I saw was so much anger, negativity and so much hatred all around the world, and I thought, “I need to change this. We need to stop this. But how?”

So I issued the following challenge:

All who read this, I challenge you to 3 easy tasks: 1) Forgive someone. 2) Hug someone else. 3) Do an act of kindness. Ready? Go!

A few people took me up on the challenge last night, fulfilling the acts they could at the moment with a promise to fulfill the rest today. And that made me happy. But it wasn’t enough. So this morning I woke up, and I tweeted the message again. Several more people took me up on the challenge, and that made me even happier. But still, it wasn’t enough. So I posted the challenge to my Facebook page and made it public for all to see. But still, it just doesn’t feel like enough. So I am issuing my challenge here, and I hope you will all accept it and share this widely. Because I’m deadly serious. In fact, I have never been more serious about anything in my life.

Friends, it’s time to change the way we are thinking and acting and living. It is time for peace.

Why am I asking you to forgive someone?

Because forgiveness is an act of selflessness. It is about releasing pride, anger, hurt, and fear and finding strength. It is not about forgetting, rather it is about releasing yourself and another from judgement and finding peace to whatever conflict you may hold the memory of. Do not let the experience define you, but let the memory guide you in the future.

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

Why a hug?

Quite frankly, I am tired of hearing and reading about people arming themselves to fight war. We already have the best arms possible to fight wars attached right at the end of our shoulders. And undeniably, their best use is for wrapping around another person. A hug is an act that is instantly gratifying. When you give it, you get it back immediately.

Facts about hugging:

  • Hugs are 100% fat free and certified organic.
  • One size fits all.
  • They don’t cost a thing and are 100% returnable.
  • Hugs are good for your heart.
  • They cure depression and reduces stress.

I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rugs. Where everyone kisses and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles and everyone wins.
– Shel Silverstein

Why an act of kindness?

Everywhere you turn, there is another human being in need. If you look around, you will see that what I am saying is true. It may be a small need – like forgiveness, or a hug – or it could be a larger need: a good meal, a warm bed, a pair of shoes, a ride to the store, an ear to listen, a friend to sit with. The list could go on forever. But everywhere at every moment, someone is in need. With one simple act of kindness, you have the opportunity to feel good inside of yourself and make someone else feel even better. To make another human being feel cherished, considered or just simply cared for. If you have that opportunity, why wouldn’t you take it?

We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.
Charlie Chaplin

I am begging you – every single human being across this glorious planet of ours – to take me up on this challenge. Take the challenge, make it real and challenge your friends, family and colleagues to do the same. Enough of anger, hatred and war. Enough fighting, ego and pride.

ENOUGH.

Peace is possible, but it has to begin with each of us individually. Only when we rise to the challenge and face our fears and our own shortcomings will we be able to live amicably in a world without prejudice and hatred. But you must be willing to commit to the change and live it every day.

Forgive, love and be kind. It’s as simple as that. Make it a regular routine so that we may all live happier lives. It is a realistic challenge, and your challenge begins now.

Please spread this far and wide. It is time to change the world.

Peace.

Pollyanna Ponderings

Thanks for stopping by my newest addition to the Pollyanna Papers, “Pollyanna Ponderings”.  A place to share stories of my  journey through life, and tidbits of inspiration I have found (and find) along the way.

Enjoy!

xo
Jo