Tis the Season
By Iam Saums
“Giving is the greatest gift we will ever receive.”
Sugar Plum Fairies:
As children, many of us were captivated and mystified by the glitz, glow and glitter of the holiday season. The prospect of all the gifts we would receive carried us through the most difficult days of the year. Every time the holidays arrived, we would miraculously transform our behavior in a last-ditch effort to prove we were indeed more nice than naughty. We dreamed of the moments when we would leap from our beds and tear open the presents littered around the tree. We were consumed within the fantasy of our own wants. For those brief and long awaited moments we were adrift in the blissful oblivion of all we received.
Yuletide by the Fireside:
The enchantment of the season is both authentic and undeniable. There is a brilliant energy of giving, good will and tidings to empower and inspire our experience of life. Yet, we become ensnared in the vicious cycle of consumerism, negating the possibility we have to become an expression of its truest meaning. Eventually, we get “wrapped up” in the social obligations of purchasing gifts for others to compensate for the lack of interest, presence and relatedness we have with them throughout the year. We are what our family members and friends wish to receive. All it requires of us is to open the gift we are.
From the time we are born, we are programmed to receive. We grow helplessly dependent upon this lifestyle and even enable it with our own tendency for selfishness. We reluctantly perform the exchange of giving and receiving gifts because we make it a part of our holiday experience. Though deep down we feel awkward and uncomfortable accepting gifts from others, even if it is from those closest to us. When the presents have all been opened, the excitement passes and we are left with the true meaning of the season. Our ability to allow ourselves to revel in the glow of family, friends and the present moment. It is up to us to choose to receive this blessing.
Deck the Halls:
All good things are subject to exploitation and manipulation. Even so with the most wonderful time of the year. Soon after the holidays begin, the busyness of the bustle shifts us from the space of authentic cheer to outright mania in the quest for the perfect present at the ideal cost. We spread ourselves so thin, we find that we don’t even appreciate the happiness we once felt. An emptiness replaces our yuletide bliss occupied most often with a great abundance of food, sweets and drink in a desperate attempt to recapture our forsaken glow. When the final embers of our holiday glow fade, our artificial fulfillment is soon to follow.
Our social custom is to give for the sake of receiving, instead of giving for the purpose of giving. This is analogous to most of the conversations we have. We listen for the chance to speak instead of acknowledging and appreciating others and allowing their sentiments to enrich our lives. The holidays are often difficult because we are confronted by the people with whom we have the most history yet see the least in our life. We are strangers more to our families then we are to casual acquaintances, yet we are far most distant from ourselves. This is most evident during the holiday season.
“We are the greatest present we will ever open.”
The holidays are an often condensed and overwhelming roller coaster ride down memory lane. At no other time are we faced with the experiences of our past, except perhaps our own birthday. It seems no matter how much we may prepare for the onslaught of activity, errands, family, festivities, preparation and shopping, we are hanging on for our lives. Lives for which most would not ordinarily choose to live. In many ways, the ghosts of our holiday past haunt us much like Scrooge. The faults and failures of our history resurface in mysteriously profound ways. These experiences give us the opportunity to recognize our shortcomings and make a difference.
There is no other time of the year when we are given the greatest gift of all. One not wrapped in a box or a bow, yet in our hearts and souls. The true meaning of the holidays is not about giving and receiving, family, friends or merriment. It is about being present in the present. We live our lives in the shadow of the past or the impending doom of a probable future. The dynamics of our daily reality prohibit us from living fully in the present. Activities, calendars, clocks, dates, events and occupations constantly alienate us from the present. The blessing of the holidays grants us the opportunity to be.
During the holiday season, our experiences seem naturally remarkable. We become present to the extraordinary in ourselves and others and our honesty and willingness supersedes all we encounter that may compromise our festive revelry. In our moments of celebration, we are energized by bright memories of yesteryear, the exhilaration of the present and the excitement of what is to come. The holidays give us the unique opportunity to exist beyond the boundaries of our everyday life. The manifestation of our love for ourselves and each other is the true meaning of the season. We become the people we have always yearned to be.
Spirit of the Season:
The holiday season is a magical time of year because our perception of reality is transformed. We shrug off the doldrums of burdens, concerns, errands, obligations and responsibilities to embrace the extraordinary with an unbridled passion. Our vision of ourselves and the world is infinitely expanded and possibility becomes our life expression. There is no limit to our charity, happiness, good will and fulfillment. The challenges we encounter invigorate us to rise to the occasion of community, purpose and service. We are not solely inspired by the spirit of the holiday season. We are empowered by the natural expression of our soul.
The Greatest Gift:
The energy of the holidays brings visions of awareness, charity, community, festivity and illumination. It is an opportunity for all of us to revel in the possibility of love, joy and peace. Yet it is also an occasion to give and share all that we are and all that we can with all, both in our lives and beyond. The contributions we make to others is the realization of our true purpose. The greatest gift we can give ourselves is consciousness. It is what relates us with ourselves, each other, humanity and the universe. We are the greatest gift we will ever receive. We are the creators of our destiny. We are the reason for the season. We are the light of the world.
“We need to give to truly live.”