I wrote this in response to a writing group prompt that asked participants to write for ten minutes straight without editing. In the end, we could correct typos, and I admit to spending another ten minutes mildly editing, but I was very fortunate that this thought had already been percolating in my mind.
Embarrassing as it may sound, I took one of those tests on Facebook that give you the important information like which brand of fast food you are or which type of bad breath. All those inane things that are merely disguises for information collection and time wasting. What kind of cat am I? It’s stupid stuff playing into our own obsession with self and self understanding. I work in advertising and I know better. I admit to foolishness.
But here’s the interesting thing, when asked I’ve always said that Halloween or maybe Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. One’s just fun and creative. The other is “no hype nice”.
But this year, in this personality test, the question prompted reevaluation. I thought about it and changed my mind. This year Christmas is my favorite holiday. So I wondered what made the difference.
It boils down to this. I’d been in a financially challenging period as I started up my new business a few years ago. I did without some things I wouldn’t have given a second thought to in previous years. And I lessened what I gave as charitable contributions; when it’s a choice between supporting the abandoned rabbits and paying the bills, the bills came first so I could keep my own personal rabbits in a home with the food and the medical care they needed. I didn’t understand that not being able to contribute, to instead be the person in need, takes a huge toll on your psyche.
This year I realized I’d been helping others again; I could make a difference. I’ve been able to support kids without toys, rabbits without homes, families without much of anything. I’ve listened to Christmas carols and understood the words rather than become irritated by their early arrival. I’ve enjoyed my family more and looked with an open, more Christian-like heart at this holiday.
What I learned is this….. Giving never feels better than when you know exactly what your giving means. I remember receiving a $50 bonus during a challenging December, and it absolutely blew me away because I knew that small company was struggling, too. The pressure of burgeoning bills is like a black hole. You’re sucked entirely into yourself and your own troubles, fears and worries. And now since I’ve been there, my experience lets me know my small contributions can help someone else breathe more freely, to loosen a clenched jaw for a while. I more fully understand appreciation and gratitude and friendship.
Sure I am glad to be back, but gladder still to have experienced less to appreciate more.
Merry Christmas to all…….. and by the way I am a Scottish Fold cat.
(c)2014 by Alison Colby-Campbell