Christmas Giving… Why Little Things Matter
It’s December, and I am blessed.
In New Orleans it is 70 degrees outside, and I’m sitting in my sun room with the windows thrown open to my neighbor’s courtyard. Someone is playing guitar out there; my neighbors on the other side are putting garlands on their balcony together with the baby trying to eat all the lights as they work. We are fully decorated and this Sunday morning is one of those magical few hours of time when waiting for Christmas seems just like it did when we were kids.
This simple, peaceful morning is filled with expectation, too. There’s a Saints game at 3:30 and we all know we’re gonna win it. Everyone has plenty of time for chores before kick-off, and this is the kind of day I love most.
Bobby may have a different view of it. He’s installing the bead-board ceiling in our new kitchen; the sound of saws that fills most weekends here is blending in with the crows hollering, cars passing by, the stray cats fighting, and of course, the clink and clank of cars readjusting their alignment on the pot holes in the neighborhood.
So that’s the scene here – and this is my bubble. This is what I mean when I say we can create a space for living that surrounds us with any kind of feeling we want to have. For me, it’s a sense of connection with many, many people right here nearby. My suburban friends call it crowded and clausterphobic. I call it bliss. I love being upstairs in this room, windows open, tops of trees in view, and a warmth surrounding me, knowing I can step directly out onto my balcony or the sidewalk and have a “New Orleans moment” with someone – any time I want.
And that makes gratitude during the holidays an easy thing this year. It makes me want to share this rich, warm happiness with those who don’t feel this way. And it makes me want to do a better job of teaching Bryce that we need to give more than we receive at Christmas.
One of the things I want to do this year is give some stockings to homeless people, filled with little things to make the holiday brighter. I realize some of them can work. I realize some are just panhandlers with no responsibilities. I do. But no one – and I mean no one – really wants to spend Christmas under an overpass; so I’m going to reserve all the judgmental thoughts until after Christmas, and just give.
If I were living on the streets, I’d create a bubble to live in, even there. It doesn’t take much… when we have very little money and I’m stressed to the end of my wits, I sometimes cut all the luxuries out of the budget… then I buy just one very long-lasting scented candle. Something tropical that reminds me of islands and palm trees and lazy afternoons. For a few dollars, I can close my eyes and be on vacation, even as the bills pile up around me. It’s just a little trick I use to get through paying bills when we’re over-extended. It helps!
And if I lived on the streets, I think I could get by a bit easier with just one tiny luxury, like a very soft blanket. I could close my eyes and dream I was somewhere with clean sheets and a hot shower. Something soft. Something I could hold between my fingers and rub against my cheek, remembering better times and a warm bed at night.
Though this year has been stressful for us, I’m working harder to do gifts for the family with deeper meaning and less expense. I’m doing photo books for the grown-ups, and Bryce is still young enough to think “bigger is better,” so his toys will be easily done without too much spending.
With what I save, I’m going to buy a few really soft blankets, some hand warmers, toiletries, RTA ride passes and have Jen help with some home-made cookies… and we will share our blessings with some people on the street.
In turn, we will be blessed, just knowing that we have enough to give some away.
The stray cats are fighting now, and the sun has slanted into my window. I’ll have to move on from my blog pretty soon and finish the laundry. But about this bubble… I am grateful to surround myself with the mess that is this beautiful city, in my crowded, noisy neighborhood. My bubble is dense, filled with light and sound and chaos, but there are days like this when it just floats… into imagination, into silence, into the heart.