I always feel sort of guilty around Christmas. Any cards and gifts I receive the year round make me feel great knowing that another person was thinking of me and I try to return the favor to others. Paying it forward, if you will. I know when another person sends me a card or gift or I do it myself, it is a sign that that person has found their way into my heart and I into theirs and that is truly a special thing.
At Christmas time, though, the pangs of guilt start stampeding toward me because, at this point in my life, I have so little to offer others in return. I can’t afford Christmas cards and gifts en masse and the cloud of guilt and shame descends upon me like swarm of flies (I know I mixed metaphors there. I claim artistic license, okay?) But I barely have enough jack to afford gifts even for my immediate family. Thankfully, this year, as she has done in the past few years, my mom decreed that any gifts should go to the grandkids and that will suffice. And I did send a gift for my niece and nephew, an autographed children’s book by my one of my favorite authors. But there again, Izzy and Jake may only appreciate their gift from Crazy Uncle Andy many years from now. And yes, my family appreciates that I have the last ten years of my life to point to for the reason why I don’t make enough money to get everyone something special. But that doesn’t make it any easier for me, the overly sensitive soul that I am.
Then a couple nights ago I was having dinner at my parents’ house and my mother gave me a hug that was a little longer and little tighter than usual. My family is not big on PDA’s (physical displays of affection), let alone PDA’s (public displays) to begin with. Yet that simple gesture brought the reality that my family and friends are just happy that I am with them at all rushing back to the fore of my consciousness and I was aware once again how happy I was to be in that moment, with my mom, dad and sister enjoying a dinner and simple gift exchange. By having limitless love to give, and receive, and still being around to give it is the best gift I can give those I love.
Taking this idea a bit further, I’ve noticed in many instances this holiday season the presence of the word “light.” In cards and Facebook posts (more on that in a minute) the theme of light is pervasive. What is light? Light is the absence of darkness. More, light represents all that is good and meaningful and joyous. And the gift I am able to bring to others is the light of humor and inspiration (you don’t have to take my word for it. I’m just repeating what others have said to me) I mean shoot, I was even called “an inspiration” by a friend. Said friend might rethink that label if he knew about my love of eating potato chips in peanut butter at 3 in the morning, but that’s none of his business. Through the dwelling on this guilt I feel at receiving so many kind cards and gifts, and the self-induced shame I endure because I can’t respond in kind, it dawned on me that I can and do bring to others my own gifts of honesty, truth and humor.
Again, this isn’t ego talking. I’ve been told this by many so if you want to debate my veracity, take it up with the dealer. I offer my perceptions and the things I’ve learned in my time on this rock on Facebook and my blog. And I have had many people, some I barely know or know only online, come to me and tell me when they identify with something I have written. Whenever this happens, whenever somebody tells me they “get it,” I feel amazing. I know I’m doing something right. Whenever I receive a compliment or a “like” on something I wrote, man … it’s like … it’s like what I imagine beating up your childhood bully or winning the bronze medal in the Olympics feels like. I just wanna stand on a crowded city street with a sandwich board that says “They like me! They really like me!” y’know? By writing honestly and making people giggle, if not chuckle or guffaw, and by sharing the light of humor and joy with others (often with little regard for the “right” and “proper” that I hold near and dear to my heart), I’m giving the gift that I am presently capable of giving.
So, dear reader, I give of myself to you the gift of my service as monk, jester and scribe. I hope I make you laugh and, maybe, think, a little in this moment. Because this moment is all we have. And I’m trying my damnedest to make the most of it. I wish for you the gifts of laughter and love this holiday, I truly do, and I thank you for reading me.
I hope it was enough.