“I’m not a scrooge but I’m also not a holiday-person. Despite what the world thinks of me, I don’t like attention. The cheeriness. The production. The lights that string all over town — you’d think they are strung around you because there are so damn many. Christmas music? Forget it. Play Zeppelin, play J. LO, play Smokey, always play Willie but don’t play Christmas music. The gifts, the socialization, the endless commotion. It’s not for me. I like the quiet. A silent room is my favorite room. I like to hear myself think. I like peace to meet my head at the door after a long day. I live to write; placidity is my best friend. So, for a girl like me, holidays are overwhelming. Holidays are everything opposite of the quiet I yearn to escape to. Holidays make me want to take a holiday detour to any pole but north. If there is a place, a place that doesn’t celebrate, a place that is simple and to itself all year long, I’ll go there. I’ll happily go there.
But here we are in the reality of Christmas time and I surprisingly found myself in a different kind of spirit this year. Maybe it’s growth. Maybe it’s just how the story goes. How this life is meant to change again and again. See, it’s not just the holiday spirit I’m feeling, rather it is the human spirit.
We all should know that a little bit of kindness goes a long way, but human nature helps us forget that at times. The little bit of kindness someone else shares can change your mindset. That little bit of kindness may even allow your mind to not be bothered by stringing a light or two. Or even replacing a whole slew that persistently outshined all they could. My kind of lights.
Christmas, I’ve learned, isn’t a production, a social gathering, or a celebratory frenzy of insane spending and giving. Christmas, I’ve learned, is a spirit in and of itself that is not limited to only a holiday spirit. Christmastime brings out more of that human spirit I mentioned. And, if a spirit is positive enough, uplifting enough, and peaceful enough, who wants to run from it? Who wants to drown in all that is sour like a bag of lemon drops? Unless, of course, lemon is your flavor. We just need to add a little extra sugar to those lemon drops. Sweeten them up a bit because it makes for a sweet, sweet season. A sweet, sweet life.
Take my mom for example.
My mom loves to decorate her front lawn at Christmas. It’s a big deal to her. One year, she put up five Christmas trees. She goes all out. I couldn’t care less about decorations. Every year, she calls me once they are up to inform me that I need to let her know what I think of the display as I pull in her driveway. This year, she begged me to go outside with her to look at them and make sure they were ‘just right.’ I didn’t want to. Like I said, I couldn’t care less. But then it hit me. She cares. It’s important to her. Yes, I couldn’t care less. But what about her? What about someone else other than myself? Other than yourself? Those lights light her up. This, though, this isn’t about lights. This isn’t about wreaths. This isn’t even about who has the best decorated house on the street (even though her whole face lights up more than her lights when I tell her she does).
This is about being kind. This is about making my mom happy with the simplest action: go outside and see the damn lights. My mom is 60 years old. I never thought I’d be saying that so soon. At her age, I handle her differently. I care more and fuss less. After all, she’s the only parent I have close by. I fight tears as I type these words. But that’s okay. That’s totally okay. We’ve all been dealt a hand and we just have to learn how to play it. My mom’s admiration for decor and needing someone else to share in it with her is a reminder to celebrate the spirit and not the production. When I think of it that way, I want to stay around on Christmas. I want to stay near her while I can. I don’t want to escape.
I want to immerse myself in this genuine human spirit I’m feeling so I can be a better me. Maybe the lovers of the world have it right. Maybe kindness is contagious. Maybe the haters of the world just need more lovers. Maybe the spirit that the holiday season sets can be one that we outstretch, overuse and overdo. Some give garland a bad rap. Some say it’s too gaudy, too much. Maybe we need to wrap our hearts and souls in an excessive amount of that over-the-top garland and think of it as that kind spirit just wrapping around us so tightly. They say nothing in excess is good for you. I think we found an exception. Kindness, in excess, can’t be so bad. It just can’t. And trust me, I preach to myself. Oh, do I preach to myself. I need my words more than an audience does, that’s why I write them. I’m the one that needs to learn these lessons. I just hope someone, even just one person out there, needs them too. I don’t always spread the kindness that I think I should be spreading. I fail too. I fail too.
So, wrap me in some garland. Make it as gaudy as can be. Let it humble me. Let the not so great days, let the rush of the season, let the annoyance from loved ones and people in general, let the overspending, let the chaos and the tacky retro decorations humble me. Let them all humble me.
Because the beautiful thing about this spirit is…
It’s a spirit of giving. A spirit of giving your time, your patience and your kindness to someone other than yourself. A spirit of putting you before I. A spirit of buying for someone else instead of always buying for myself. Life can eat us alive. People can be mean. People want to see you fail. People want to break you. But people can’t take away your ability to be kind when you don’t want to be. People can’t take away your joy, even if it’s about something as small as decorations like it is for my mom. So, let’s keep that spirit alive. That joy alive. And if your cup is full, if you’re being kind enough to yourself, if you’re making yourself happy, you can make someone else happy. You can give others the time and attention they sometimes need like a recent encounter with a Burger King Cashier gave me.
The clock hadn’t seen 7 a.m. yet, and I needed one. I needed one so bad. She was beyond kind from the moment she took my order. Her tone was as sweet as the vanilla iced coffee I was about to request. She said she’d make sure my cup was filled with light ice like I asked. (Remember, the ice might be light for some of us, but the spirit, the spirit needs to overflow in the cup.)
When I pulled up to the drive-thru window, the cashier asked me if I was going to work. I thought to myself, ‘Wow. She actually cares about who I am. She cares about where I am going.’ In a world where most cashiers forget to look at you or speak to you when handing you your items (I get it. They might be tired, overworked and in a rush), I felt beyond appreciated. Any morning grumpiness I had; she took it away. Any negative thoughts I had, she seemed to clear my mind. All I could think about was how considerate the lady handing me my coffee was. That is the spirit I’m writing about. Yes, the holiday season is in full force, but I have a feeling that someone who is that kind isn’t that kind just because it’s the ‘holiday season.’ It seemed way too natural for her; it seemed to be her human spirit. It seemed like she was a lover in the world. A lover that the haters so desperately need. The haters that want to pour the blizzard of 1978 on my mom’s Christmas spirit and not see her lights (like me), the haters that want to judge you and cut you down, especially when they don’t know you, the haters that want to run you over with a cart because you’re blocking their way in the isle, that Burger King Cashier, that gentle human being — she is for all of us. She represents the human spirit we should all aim to possess.
Think of a cup overflowing with a beverage. Foam everywhere for the latte. Carbonated cola non-stop. Water flooding a table that no cup could contain. Endless refills. The cup is so full that it never needs to deplete another cup to fill itself up. That’s what I strive to be. I want my own cup to overfill so I don’t have to empty someone else’s (like my mom who just needs someone to get excited about her lights). I don’t have to hurt my mom because I’m tired, or unhappy, or annoyed by her eagerness to have me stand outside in the cold with her and stare at that front lawn. I want to be able to give away what’s in my cup because I have enough. I never want to be the voice that drains another’s cup. I hope more and more people choose to fill their own cup so they can fill another’s cup like the Burger King cashier filled mine and like I filled my mom’s. Yes, it’s Christmas time, but it’s always human time. There’s always a reason to share a genuine human spirit, holiday or not.
That escape I thought I needed is no longer necessary because it has always been all around me.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Felicia Naoum, 31 of Parma, Ohio. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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